Multifamily Building Guide

Guideline / September 6, 2017 / Building Innovation

NBI's Multifamily Guide offers an advanced standard that addresses the issues faced when applying building code to multifamily buildings. This single prescriptive standard delivers savings regardless of whether the project is subject to the residential or commercial versions of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Modeling shows the advanced measures described in the guide result in savings of 15-25% over the 2015 IECC. In all, 13 core measures and six additional efficiency packages are presented to help design practitioners and owners improve energy performance in multifamily new construction projects. For utility efficiency program administrators, the package provides measures that are modeled for verified energy savings estimates and incremental cost analysis.


Multifamily buildings offer a largely untapped opportunity for improving energy efficiency. Despite tremendous potential for savings, the multifamily market is has been challenging to advance due to complexities in market structure and split incentives. More and more attention is being paid to overcoming these barriers. With support from the MacArthur Foundation, NBI has worked with industry partners to accelerate best practices into utility program design and implementation and to make connections between owners, tenants, funders, utilities and energy efficiency experts.

NBI also worked with the Energy Foundation, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program to develop this guidance. The Multifamily Guide addresses all aspects of energy performance in multifamily buildings, including envelope, space conditioning, ventilation, site lighting, water heating, and appliances.

In summer of 2019, multifamily projects will be able to begin using the US Green Building Council’s latest iteration of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). LEED v4.1 Residential Design and Construction: Multifamily is part of USGBC’s new approach to residential projects. As part of this evolutionary update, New Buildings Institute’s Multifamily Guide has been included as a prescriptive path to both meet the energy prerequisite and earn additional credits under “Optimize Energy Performance.” NBI’s Multifamily Guide includes a set of 13 base measures and six “Additional Efficiency Packages” that provide greater savings. Projects that meet the requirements of the 13 base measures qualify for the energy prerequisite under Option 2. Prescriptive Compliance. Projects that pursue one of the Additional Efficiency Packages can then earn up to 6 additional points.

The incorporation of the NBI Multifamily Guide into LEED 4.1 continues a long collaboration between NBI and USGBC. NBI’s E*Benchmark and Core Performance Guide were included in previous editions of LEED and the New Construction Guide continues to provide prescriptive options to meet energy prerequisites and earn additional credits in LEED for small commercial projects.

A larger set of technical material is available to energy efficiency program administrators to support better savings outcomes for program implementation in the multifamily market.  Learn more