Creating More Efficient Multifamily Communities

Apr 4

Written by: THE CABOT GROUP
4/4/2013 11:56 AM  RssIcon

Submitted by S.Laraby
Multifamily dwellings offer economies of scale that can provide cost savings for residents over single homes.  The same relationship exists for energy efficiency as small changes can add up to sizable cost savings as well.  The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and CNT Energy recently released a report outlining some efficiency benchmarks that can have a substantial impact on multifamily communities (Engaging as Partners: Introducing Utilities to the Energy Efficiency Needs of Multifamily Buildings and Their Owners).

According to analysis provided by Energy Manager Today "... The report, , said building owners and tenants of the more than 18 million occupied apartments and condominiums in buildings with five units or more spent nearly $22 billion on energy in 2009. That’s an average of $1,141 per household, the report said. If the best current multifamily energy efficiency programs were expanded nationwide, these building owners and tenants could save up to $3.4 billion per year." or roughly 15.4%.

Cost savings would be welcomed at any household.  As mentioned, economies of scale and existing communication channels with residents allow multifamily communities to be the ideal target for energy efficiency programs.  Owners of multifamily communities must work closely with residents and government agencies to make adding these efficiencies simple and effective.  It also is important to help residents understand where they can create efficiencies, and that greater impacts can be realized by identifying and optimizing the highest portion energy expenditures.fig.1  Residents should be cognizant of the relationship their individual utilities have on total expenditures.  For example, for an energy bill averaging $1,141/annum, a 15.4% reduction in HVAC expense versus a 15.4% reduction in lighting expense have very different impacts.  The HVAC reduction results in $73.80/annum in savings while the lighting reduction results in a savings of $19.33.  Both are significant, however, more emphasis should be placed upon the item with the most impact. 

The potential benefits for residents and owners are many.  However, the ACEEE also noted that 40% of the largest multifamily markets lack utility energy efficiency programs of any kind.  This offers two useful insights.  First, a greater public awareness of the benefits is necessary.  Secondly, an outstanding potential for energy efficiency and cost savings and is yet to be capitalized upon, leaving billions in unclaimed savings. 

fig.1

Further Reading

Home Energy Audits: Making Homes More Energy Efficient and Comfortable: http://energy.gov/articles/home-energy-audits-making-homes-more-energy-efficient-and-comfortable

Energy: How to Save Energy This Spring: http://energy.gov/articles/tipsenergy-how-save-energy-spring

Philadelphia: The City of Energy Savings: http://energy.gov/articles/philadelphia-city-energy-savings

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