Better Buildings Challenge Multifamily Newsletter: November 2020

In This Issue:

Key Announcements

  • Register for our webinar, Planning for Resilience in Multifamily Housing: A Portfolio-Wide Approach on November 17, 2020 at 3:00 PM EST. The webinar will explore real-world resiliency planning frameworks that can serve as models for property owners and managers. Panelists will delve into topics including making the business case for resilience measures, assessing risks by region, and prioritizing properties.

Photo of solar panels with overlay text: Where can I find funding/financing for renewables-related projects?

  • November is the final month for multifamily partners to complete an Annual Plan for the Better Buildings Challenge. Take this opportunity to reach out to your Account Manager to outline your goals and a roadmap for the coming year.
  • Learn about the impact that state policy interventions and business models have had on solar adoption in low-income communities. Register for the Clean Energy Group’s webinar, The Impact of Policies and Business Models on Income Equity in Rooftop Solar Adoption, on December 3, 2020 at 1:00 PM EST.

  • A recording is now available for the Clean Energy Group and the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation’s (NYCEEC) recent webinar, Financing Resilient Power in Underserved Communities: Moving Forward with Distributed Solar+Storage Projects. Watch to learn about the economics of distributed Solar+Storage projects, characteristics of current projects, financing solutions, incentives, and technical assistance resources.

Three Multifamily Partners Lead the Way in Disaster Resilience Assessment and Planning

Read the full Disaster Resilience article on the Better Buildings Beat Blog.

Disaster Resilience, or the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events, can support energy efficiency and is an important part of any organization’s portfolio. Three Better Buildings Challenge multifamily partners are leading the way to assess risk and prepare their housing portfolios for extreme weather events. Jonathan Rose Companies, WinnCompanies, and Preservation of Affordable Housing are creating portfolio-wide disaster resilience assessment strategies and implementing measures to protect residents and property.

Photo of JRCo's Metro Green Apartments

JRCo's Metro Green Apartments in Stamford, Connecticut

Jonathan Rose Companies

In 2018, Jonathan Rose Companies (JRCo) began assessing resilience strategies across its national portfolio of more than 80 properties spanning 18 states and various climatic zones. JRCo started with regional risk hazard assessments and worked its way down to the site level over time. Using Enterprise Community Partners’ Ready to Respond Toolkit for Multifamily Building Resilience as a guide, the JRCo team identified physical risks by consulting local and regional hazard mitigation or emergency plans typically found on a city’s or county’s public website. The team ranked JRCo’s highest priority risks across the entire portfolio and added them as layers in a Google Maps tool. This allowed JRCo to see the geographical concentration of hazards within each region. The top three hazards identified were flooding, winter storms, and extreme heat. JRCo also aligned its risk analysis strategy with the GRESB Resilience Module, which categorizes risk into three types: physical, transitional, and social.


Boston-based WinnCompanies, with a multifamily portfolio across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, is integrating resilience measures into new construction projects and evaluating ways it can make existing properties more resilient when disasters strike. Its WinnResponse Emergency Action Plan, coupled with targeted Resilience Assessments in key areas, ensures its properties and communities are better prepared for a variety of emergency events. On the East Boston waterfront, Winn is developing 52 new mixed-income units in two buildings in accordance with Boston’s Green Building and Climate Resiliency Zoning Code (Article 37), which includes a Climate Preparedness Checklist. Winn’s new Harbor125 condominiums and Residences at Harborwalk apartments were raised over three feet, well above projected design flood elevations based on the City’s 2050 sea level rise projections. Additional resilience measures include both permanent and deployable flood barriers, high-efficiency HVAC systems, ENERGY STAR® windows, and a solar-ready design.

Preservation of Affordable Housing

For Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), a 2020 Better Buildings Challenge Goal Achiever, evaluating resilience across its 84-property portfolio is part of its current five-year strategic plan. POAH has started with building surveys of its properties to examine power failures and generators. The survey includes a set of questions to determine what electric loads the existing generators cover, if they are the correct size, and if additional generators are needed in the event of power shutdowns. The results help POAH determine where to add generators, to ensure that key outlets in community spaces and offices are powered so that they can do critical tasks like charge cell phones and refrigerate medications, and that the property offices have power to communicate during emergencies. All POAH projects include an area of refuge, which is typically the community room and office suite. In addition to outlets, these spaces have independent HVAC systems so residents have a place to go during power outages.

Spotlight on Partner Success

  • Last month, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) released its portfolio-wide strategic plan to meet New York City’s Local Law 97 requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. The NYCHA Climate Mitigation Roadmap commits NYCHA to electrifying its buildings and outlines the Authority’s 10-year and 30-year plans for achieving near-net-zero carbon emissions through four operational improvement strategies:
    1. Reducing energy waste
    2. Moving away from steam heating technology
    3. Improving critical building infrastructures
    4. Incentivizing residents to reduce in-apartment energy usage

NYCHA properties in New York City, NY

NYCHA properties in New York City, NY  

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