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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

Household Energy Bills and Subsidized Housing

Household energy consumption is crucial to national energy policy. This article analyzes how the rules covering utility costs in the four major federal housing assistance programs alter landlord and tenant incentives for energy efficiency investment and conservation. We conclude that, relative to market-rate housing, assistance programs provide less incentive to landlords and tenants for energy efficiency investment and conservation, and utilities are more likely to be included in the rent. Using data from the American Housing Survey, we examine the differences in utility billing arrangements between assisted and unassisted low-income renters and find that—even when controlling for observable building and tenant differences—the rent that assisted tenants pay is more likely to include utilities. Among all tenants who pay utility bills separately from rent, observable differences in energy expenses for assisted and unassisted tenants are driven by unit, building, and household characteristics rather than the receipt of government assistance.
Incentives Report/Research Brief Resident Engagement Split Incentive 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

Beyond the CFL: Winning Imagery for Energy Efficiency

Public opinion research demonstrates widespread support for energy efficiency among Americans. Yet, research also shows that in the context of broader energy issues, energy efficiency emerges as a relatively low priority compared to energy sources like wind, solar, natural gas and more. Those working to advance energy efficiency policies and practices have struggled to capitalize on positive views of energy efficiency to advance energy efficiency policies. Resource Media commissioned testing of energy efficiency imagery to identify visual strategies that can help bridge from the positive associations Americans have with energy efficiency to support for the bigger picture policy initiatives needed to advance energy efficiency at the scale that’s required. The testing confirms that visuals have the power to bring energy efficiency home for people in a way that is simply not possible with wind, solar and other types of energy. This is in part because many people have experience doing simple things to make their own homes more efficient, which allows them to relate to energy efficiency personally. The research likewise confirms clear challenges when it comes to translating personal support for energy efficiency improvements in one’s home to support for energy efficiency policies in commercial and residential building sectors. People most often view energy efficiency as a personal responsibility, and not the job of government and regulations. The research demonstrates that images can inspire visceral, angry responses about energy waste, get people excited about doing things to reduce energy use in their homes, and pique interest in how businesses and institutions are saving energy and money. Ultimately, images that tap into Americans’ very positive and personal experiences with energy efficiency generate the most enthusiasm, creating a constructive context for conversations about programs that drive energy efficiency in homes and businesses.
Report/Research Brief Resident Engagement


Rising utility rates create financial risk for owners and reduce affordability for tenants of multifamily properties. To combat this challenge and multifamily properties' impact on the natural environment, the Fannie Mae Multifamily Mortgage Business (Fannie Mae) launched the Green Initiative. The mission of the Fannie Mae Multifamily Green Initiative is to enhance the quality, affordability, and environmental sustainability of multifamily housing in the United States. The Green Initiative provides leadership in the multifamily industry by offering Green Financing loans for smart property improvements and delivering innovative tools that measure and capture the value of energy and water efficiency. As of the first quarter of 2014, Fannie Mae has financed $130 million in Green Preservation Plus loans or in loans that are backed by properties with a Green Building certification. These loans are securitized as Green Mortgage Backed Securities (Green MBS), a securitization standard set by Fannie Mae. Green Preservation Plus provides up to an 85% loan to value (LTV) ratio for owners of Affordable housing to transform their property through energy efficiency, water efficiency, and general property improvements. Fannie Mae’s newest Green Financing product, the Multifamily Property Improvement to Reduce Energy (M-PIRE) loan, underwrites a portion of the property’s projected energy and water cost savings, providing additional loan proceeds for cost-saving upgrades to the common area and to tenant units. To accurately assess a property’s potential for energy and water savings, Fannie Mae developed and published the High Performance Building Module for public use. This module expands a traditional Property Conditions Assessment report by including an energy and water audit. The audit reveals cost saving opportunities and assists to mitigate property condition risks. In 2011, Fannie Mae identified that multifamily owners needed a simple way to understand their property’s energy performance but that a single, nationally recognized metric did not exist. Fannie Mae Multifamily Mortgage Business partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deliver the 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR® score for multifamily properties. As a result of this partnership, Fannie Mae is proud to announce that the ENERGY STAR score is available for use by the multifamily industry as of September 16, 2014. The 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score is a product of the Fannie Mae Multifamily Energy and Water Market Research Survey (Survey). In 2012, Fannie Mae surveyed over 1,000 multifamily properties across the U.S. for statistically relevant and comprehensive energy and water information. The EPA used the resulting Survey data to create the ENERGY STAR Score for multifamily. Fannie Mae also invested in the Survey to provide owners with greater understanding of a multifamily property’s energy and water performance, trends and metrics. This paper shares the valuable information and metrics collected through the Survey.
EnergyStar Report/Research Brief Water

Buildings that learn – the role of building operators

Energy efficiency in buildings is dependent on many different factors; the material quality of the building, and the various technologies implemented. Nonetheless, the use and the users of buildings are also of great significance. This paper analyses building operators and their role in making buildings \"work\". Building operators may be viewed as an important user group in buildings. In contrast with \"end-users\", a group that has been much studied over the last years, building operators have special competence in operating the building and thus also have a better opportunity to influence the innovation process. The paper argues that the building operators may be seen as important actors in optimizing energy efficiency in buildings. Furthermore, it argues that they hold tacit and experience based knowledge that could be utilised to a greater extent in the design and construction phase and not only in the operation phase. Building operators negotiate between users, technologies and the building, and thus, their understanding of and knowledge about the building is vital for reaching goals of energy efficiency.
O&M Report/Research Brief

2013 QAP Analysis: Green Building Criteria in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Programs

Since 2006, Global Green USA has completed a regular review of QAPs and established a national performance ranking for the green building practices promoted by the QAPs.
Regulations Report/Research Brief

Displaying 1 – 20 of 37 files