Last Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a list of the first multifamily and condo buildings to earn an ENERGY STAR certification. These multifamily properties were the first in the nation to receive the certification which shows that they are more energy efficient than similar buildings nationwide. Most of the properties on the list were concentrated in cities that have benchmarking ordinances — Boston, Chicago, New York City, Seattle, and Washington DC.
There is tremendous potential for energy savings in multifamily housing. About a third of the U.S. population lives in the country’s 500,000 multifamily buildings. Multifamily building residents spend about $22 billion on energy every year. Current estimates show that multifamily properties can become 30% more efficient and save about $9 billion by 2020, all while averting 35 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
The ENERGY STAR certification is given to multifamily buildings with twenty or more units which, from a scale of 1–100, receive a score of 75 or higher. The score indicates that they are more energy efficient than 75 percent of similar buildings nationwide. An ENERGY STAR certified building has many benefits. Building owners save money by reducing their expenses in common areas and outdoor lighting. Increased energy efficiency also lowers energy costs for tenants which results in more affordable, comfortable, and sought-after living spaces. And, many buildings have the potential to be ENERGY STAR certified. In fact, some of the multifamily buildings recently certified were affordable housing properties. These building owners are helping to make the units more affordable for their low-income tenants by reducing energy costs.
Whole-building energy consumption data is required to earn an ENERGY STAR certification. A challenge facing some multifamily building owners looking to achieve an ENERGY STAR certification is in acquiring all of the tenant’s energy data in buildings. Some leading utilities can provide anonymous whole building data to building owners without master meters. This data can then be used to achieve the ENERGY STAR certification. However, if the utility does not provide this critical service, then it comes nearly impossible for a building to obtain this honor.
The City Energy Project (CEP) encourages utilities to make whole-building energy data available. CEP works with cities and utilities to allow building owners to obtain critical data they need to control their energy use and costs. Building owners that choose to go after ENERGY STAR certification realize that they are not only saving on energy long-term, but they are using data to prove it.
Find out how your building can be a leading energy performer at Energy Star.