Praising Progress: Michigan's Energy Efficiency Program for Multifamily Affordable Housing

For many, the New Year means the kickoff of new resolutions, but in Michigan, one energy efficiency project that started well before the flurry of fad diets is celebrating its first six months of progress. The pilot program, facilitated by Michigan Energy Options (MEO) is designed to help owners of affordable multifamily housing make significant energy efficiency upgrades through a simple, guided process that leverages commercial and residential rebates and incentives from Consumers Energy.

I blogged earlier about the need for tailored programs and how deep retrofits can bring about wide-ranging benefits--this pilot is on track to proving just that. The program focuses, in large part, on creating a simple and affordable process for property owners, but others also see important benefits. Energy efficiency can be the single best energy resource investment to help low- and fixed-income households afford their utility bills. As a result, tenants' gain healthier and more affordable homes, utilities' meet their state energy goals, and the affordable housing stock is preserved.

Over the next two years, the pilot aims to reach 1,224 apartments in 51 buildings and great steps have already been taken. The first six months' numbers boast:

  • 30 buildings/1,488 units audited
  • Major property management firms on board (KMG Prestige)
  • First retrofits approved and scheduled for early 2015. (Retrofits can include measures such as air sealing, roof insulation, boiler replacement, radiator replacement and CFL installations)
  • Two audits used for Enterprise Green Community certification

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(Ed Love, Programs Manager of Michigan Energy Options, assists in an audit.)

These stats provide a single snapshot in time of an approach that is at once comprehensive and streamlined, starting with customer intake and ending with monitoring of energy savings (See visualization below). For one property management company, the program has already provided six energy audits and has found more than $210,000 in energy efficient improvements that will save more than $30,000 per year in energy expenses. With utility rebates, the payback period on these improvements will be just six years and will provide a 14.25% return on investment.

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The following groups worked with Consumers Energy to make the pilot a reality. Together, this team laid the foundation to achieve meaningful energy savings and help maintain much-needed affordable housing for families of limited-incomes.

  • Consumers Energy
  • Michigan Energy Options
  • CLEAResult
  • Franklin Energy
  • New Ecology
  • Michigan Saves
  • Elevate Energy
  • Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA)

With the progress we've seen so far, the pilot looks on target to realize the countless benefits of energy efficiency.

About the Authors

Ariana Gonzalez

Energy Policy Analyst, Midwest program

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