Multifamily Energy Efficiency

Online Tool / May 27, 2014 / Deep Energy Retrofits

Multifamily buildings offer a largely untapped opportunity for improving energy efficiency. Despite tremendous potential for savings, the multifamily market is hard to penetrate 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 is working 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.

Here you will find links and information on best practices in energy efficiency programs, organizations focused on multifamily energy efficiency, and multifamily energy efficiency programs from some of the best resources NBI has found.


Multifamily Buildings Guide

The Multifamily Guide is currently in development with support from NEEA and the Energy Foundation, and in collaboration with EPA Energy Star. This new advanced standard addresses the issues faced when applying building code to multifamily buildings. A single prescriptive standard can deliver savings regardless of whether the project is subject to the residential or commercial versions of the IECC. Associated design guidance, due in early summer, will offer design and construction practitioners support to apply the above-code program. NBI’s package will provide measures, energy savings estimates and incremental cost analysis. For utility incentive program administrators, this allows the use of a single, straight-forward approach to energy efficiency across the entire multifamily market.


MultiFamily FirstView Graph
Figure: Affordable Multifamily Housing Building (single line) Comparison to Peers (solid band)

FirstView® for Multifamily Buildings

A new version of FirstView for multifamily buildings is now complete and in the hands of key utility partners and other organizations. FirstView for Multifamily, which has specific applicability to affordable housing is a result of support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and is unique in its field for several reasons. Unlike expensive energy audits or traditional computer modeling, NBI’s FirstView enables utility program managers, building owners, energy efficiency professionals and designers to extract high-level diagnostics and energy performance information from basic data inputs. The data needed for FirstView is simply monthly electric and gas use information and a few building characteristics. It is deliberately the same information used to get a score through Energy Star Portfolio Manager and includes an automated upload of Portfolio Manager data so parties can easily move from “how is my building doing” (the Energy Star score) to “how could it be better” (the FirstView diagnostics).

Actual building performance data from affordable multifamily buildings around the nation is used to establish comparison indices, spectrums, and benchmarks. FirstView for Multifamily can be used to benchmark a building’s energy use, see the energy by end use, compare performance to peer buildings, and help prioritize retrofit opportunities.The diagram to the right reveals that during higher outside temperatures the building energy use is comparatively low but during the colder periods it is in the upper quartile of energy use compared to other like buildings. FirstView for Multifamily then creates diagnostic ‘flags’ that detail areas to pursue for improvement. Factsheet is available here.

Learn more about FirstView


Additional Resources

Two new reports from Energy Efficiency for All illustrate energy savings opportunities and program designs for affordable housing. Learn more