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Utility Allowances in Federally Subsidized Multifamily Housing

Despite this split incentive problem, HUD has considerable leverage to reduce utility costs in its portfolio, which can benefit both HUD and households receiving a rental subsidy. While certain changes to HUD’s utility scheme would require congressional action and are therefore outside of HUD’s direct power to change, HUD administrators could change regulations and guidance documents without seeking outside approval. Specifically, as further detailed in the policy recommendations section, HUD can issue rules and guidance to: incentivize owners and tenants to conserve energy, encourage project owners to retrofit buildings, more accurately project utility consumption, and create transparency on how allowances are calculated. Such changes will improve the financial viability of existing properties and free resources that can be repurposed for other HUD goals.
Policy Proposal Report/Research Brief Utility Allowance

Building Energy Efficiency Partnerships for Affordable Multifamily Housing: 2015 and Beyond

This paper offers a snapshot of the resources devoted to promoting low-income multifamily housing energy efficiency retrofits; it describes many of the policies, public-private resources and partnerships influencing and funding the field in late 2014.
EB5 ESCO Finance Policy Proposal Report/Research Brief Retrofit Utility Allowance Utility Incentives & Programs


This Guide was created as part of the Energy Efficiency For All Project, a joint effort of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Housing Trust, the Energy Foundation, and Elevate Energy. Electric and gas utilities in the U.S. invest billions of dollars annually to help their customers become more energy efficient, often by making repairs and improvements to customers’ homes and buildings. These investments are smart—they improve lives by reducing energy expenses, create healthier, more comfortable houses and offices, and improve community building stock. The resulting energy efficiency produces a better utility system with less pollution, creates local jobs, and delivers other public benefits. Yet studies show vast amounts of cost-effective efficiency potential available in our nation’s affordable housing, in multifamily affordable housing (MFAH) in particular. In other words, a lot of the energy delivered to affordable housing is wasted—it simply goes out the windows or up the chimney. The good news is that our research—presented in this guide—strongly suggests that well-designed efficiency programs can indeed reach MFAH and can enable utilities to capture cost-effective efficiency potential. Program experience offers many useful and encouraging lessons about how to reach affordable housing in ways that will benefit the utility, the building owner, the residents, and the community at large. This guide is intended to explain specific best practices to efficiency program professionals: program designers and administrators, utility staff, regulators, and other stakeholders. We provide 12 specific and proven strategies for utilities to help owners invest to improve MFAH in their communities.
Policy Proposal Report/Research Brief Utility Incentives & Programs

Potential for Energy Savings in Affordable Multifamily Housing

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), National Housing Trust (NHT), Energy Foundation, Elevate Energy, and New Ecology are conducting a multistate and multiyear Energy Efficiency for All affordable multifamily housing efficiency project with the goal of cost effectively reducing energy consumption as a means of maintaining housing affordability, creating healthier and more comfortable living environments for moderate- and low-income families, and reducing pollution. The project aim is to encourage electric and gas utilities to spearhead programs designed to capture all cost-effective energy efficiency within the affordable multifamily housing sector, significantly benefiting low income families and building owners as well as utilities. NRDC and the project partners commissioned this study to estimate the potential energy savings from the implementation of efficiency measures in affordable multifamily housing in nine states — Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. For this study, affordable multifamily housing is defined as households in buildings with five or more units occupied by people with household incomes at or below 80% of the area median income. The study compared outputs from the different potential scenarios and sensitivity analyses assessed in the study. This study analyzed two levels of potential: 1. Economic potential — savings that can be realized if all cost-effective efficiency measures are implemented 2. Maximum achievable potential — savings that can be realized if all cost-effective efficiency measures are implemented given existing market barriers The study found that the total benefits to society, as defined by the Total Resource Cost test, from pursing energy efficiency substantially exceed the costs.
Policy Proposal Report/Research Brief Retrofit

Increasing Energy Efficiency in Small Multifamily Properties in the Northeast

Residential multifamily properties represent not only a significant share of the housing stock in the region, but a significant opportunity to capture energy efficiency savings through cost-effective retrofit measures. The ability to attain these savings has never been more vital, as state policymakers throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States are setting ever stronger energy efficiency goals. In the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region, the small multifamily housing sector – defined as housing in buildings with between five and 20 units – accounts for approximately 2.1 million occupied housing units out of a total of 26 million total housing units. However, much of the potential energy efficiency in these units remains unrealized. The nature of the multifamily housing stock – and, in particular, the small multifamily sector – creates a unique set of challenges that have until now largely stymied the retrofit market. Yet some successful models for reaching the small multifamily sector have begun to emerge. This paper is meant to inform energy efficiency stakeholders and policymakers about best practices gleaned from examining existing programs and policies addressing energy efficiency in the small multifamily housing market; to identify continuing gaps in the ability to penetrate that market to an even greater extent; and to present recommendations for programs and policies that may hold the promise of additional energy savings.
Policy Proposal