Better Buildings Challenge Multifamily Newsletter: April 2020

In This Issue:

Key Announcements

Better Builidngs, Better Plants 2020 Summit: A Virtual Leadership Symposium

  • The 2020 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit is transitioning to a virtual leadership symposium held during the same week as the original conference (June 8 - 11, 2020). The online event will feature a series of timely webinars and peer exchanges – all free to attend. Select one of the following links to learn more about A Virtual Leadership Symposium:
  • Better Buildings Challenge Multifamily Sector webinar postponed: The Innovative Energy Efficiency Financing in Public Housing webinar, originally scheduled for April 28, 2020, has been postponed until the Fall of 2020 out of consideration of the unprecedented challenges many members of the public housing community are experiencing at this time as they work to keep their residents and communities safe.
  • See a list of resources and updates on COVID-19 and housing that the Better Buildings Challenge Multifamily Sector has compiled to support housing organizations and help them disseminate critical information to staff and residents during this crisis.
  • Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA) is highlighting policy responses to COVID-19 being developed to protect against eviction, utility disconnection, and other acute housing issues being experienced by vulnerable populations.
  • Updates are underway for the new 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), the national model energy code. The proposed updates will require new buildings to reduce covered energy use by more than 10 percent on average compared to buildings meeting the previous code, and by more than a third compared to the 2009 IECC.

Multifamily Partners Expand Solar for Affordable Housing with Innovative Financing Model

Better Buildings Challenge multifamily partners are challenging the perception of solar power as an amenity reserved for middle- and upper-income households. Using portfolio-level solar, an innovative financing model, six Challenge partners have installed 8.4 MW of solar PV in affordable multifamily properties.

Championed by Challenge partner NHT Communities, the portfolio-level solar model involves non-profit affordable housing owners setting up an independent business entity to purchase and own solar PV systems on buildings across their portfolios.

NHT Communities rooftop solar installation

One of NHT Communities rooftop solar installations on a property in Washington, DC

This allows the organizations to take advantage of tax credits and avoid the financial complexities of more traditional types of financing. Challenge partners Denver Housing Authority, Linc Housing, BRIDGE Housing Corporation, Jonathan Rose Companies, and Silver Street Development Corporation have joined with NHT to prove out the model.

Continuing the trend, in November 2019, Jonathan Rose Companies’ subsidiary, Rose Solar I, closed a $2.9 million renewable energy deal that will fund the development of nearly 1 MW of rooftop solar PV at six affordable housing properties in the Northeast. NHT-Ingenuity served as codeveloper, helping the Rose Solar team identify feasible projects by evaluating roof age and condition, property location, utility programs, property business plans, and ownership structures. The properties will enter into 20-year energy services agreements to access discounted green power, generating finances that will enable the properties to provide additional services to residents.

Read more about this approach in the NHT Renewable Solar Financing Implementation Model.

Spotlight on Partner Success

In 2019, The Community Builders, Inc. completed over $1 million in energy efficiency upgrades for 1,500 units without using any of its own funds. This included over $800,000 worth of weatherization improvements and LED upgrades. The upgrades spanned 12 properties, including: Chauncy Housing Apartments, Franklin Park Apartments, and Thornwood Apartments. A large part of the financing was through the Low-Income Energy Affordability Network (LEAN) Multifamily program in Massachusetts.


Chauncy House Apartments in Boston, MA

Truth or Consequences Housing Authority has offset 90 percent of its electrical load at two properties in New Mexico through the installation of a 230 kW ground mounted solar PV system. Serving 100 units of housing for seniors and low-income families, the project was financed entirely through a HUD approved Energy Performance Contract implemented by the International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (ICAST).

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