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Energy Conservation

Owners, residents, and the federal government are wasting huge sums on building energy and water bills in affordable multifamily housing.  HUD alone spends more than $6.8 billion a year on those costs in public and assisted housing, and the bills are borne directly by owners and residents in the 16 or so million unassisted apartments, many of which are affordable without subsidy.  Meanwhile, 21% of carbon emissions are attributable to residential use.

SAHF has taken on the challenge of developing a model to reduce utility consumption in affordable rental properties.  On the principle that owners cannot manage what they do not know and that policy makers cannot set sensible policy without data, SAHF first concentrated its efforts on sophisticated data collection and analysis. 

Working with its contractor Bright Power/ EnergyScoreCards, SAHF built a database of 700 properties nationally, to which another 500 have been added, a database that to our knowledge is the deepest in the field.   Sophisticated analysis of the data it contains enables SAHF and its members to benchmark properties against one another, target those most likely to benefit from retrofits and the measures most likely to make a difference, track savings achieved by retrofits, and enable owners to manage utility consumption on an ongoing basis.  SAHF continues to build that database with properties of state housing finance agencies and other owners, but is also actively making use of funds provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Most importantly, SAHF is putting in place a follow-on program designed to enable energy conservation retrofits to get to scale by relying principally not on grant funds but on borrowed funds to be repaid from savings on utility bills.

SAHF is grateful for the critical financial and strategic support for this work that it is receiving from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The New York Community Trust, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

SAHF Research on Energy and Multifamily Affordable Housing
SAHF staff and consultants regularly provide research and analysis into the impact of energy spending and energy-efficiency programs on multifamily affordable housing.  Click here to read a paper on the use of Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance funds to benefit residents of multifamily housing.  Click here to read a review of research demonstrating the impact green retrofitting of multifamily properties has on local economies, particularly on employment.  Click here to view a utility allowance table for Project-Based Section 8 comparing tenant versus owner paid rules governing utility allowances. Click here to view a paper by the Furman Center on household energy bills and subsidized housing.

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