Owners, residents, and the federal government spend huge sums of money on energy and water bills in affordable multifamily rental housing. For public and assisted housing, annual utility bills are over $7 billion. Conservation and efficiency in energy and water use – often the largest controllable operating expense – can free up significant sums of otherwise scarce resources to help preserve affordable housing. Energy and water improvements also contribute to resident health and comfort and lessen properties’ environmental impacts.
Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF) and its members recognize the importance of energy and water conservation in providing quality housing and in their roles as responsible stewards they have taken on the challenge of reducing utility consumption in affordable rental properties. Efforts to date include: demonstrations conducted by SAHF’s Energy team to test the effectiveness of energy performance contracting in this sector, the use of on-bill repayment as a financing mechanism for energy retrofits, the development of software that enables owners to identify property-specific efficiency needs, costs and projected savings, as well as the Big Reach – an initiative by SAHF members to reduce their energy and water consumption across the portfolio 20% by 2020.
Building on our experience collecting and analyzing energy and water consumption data, SAHF has launched a number of innovative demonstration projects. The focus of these demonstrations has been on bringing tools, partnerships, and models that expand the availability of capital, capacity, and competence to affordable multifamily rental housing in support of conservation efforts. For further information on SAHF’s main retrofit demonstrations, click on the tab titled Retrofit Demonstrations above.
The Big Reach and the Better Buildings Challenge
In May 2013, SAHF and its members made a commitment to establish portfolio wideenergy and water conservation targets through our Big Reach initiative. Under the Big Reach, SAHF members will lead the industry by reducing energy and water use portfolio-wide by 20% by 2020 through a mix of energy and water efficiency, energy and water conservation, and renewable energy thereby aiding the long-term preservation of affordable housing.
Subsequent to SAHF’s launching of the Big Reach, the Department of Energy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development joined forces to the expand the Better Buildings Challenge to multifamily housing. The Better Buildings Challenge is a federal initiative to support building owners who commit to reducing energy consumption 20% within a ten year period. All eleven SAHF members signed up as inaugural multifamily partners within the Better Buildings Challenge. To support our members’ commitments and goals under the Big Reach and the Better Buildings Challenge, SAHF is also developing a range of tools and partnerships. One example is found above in the tab titled Multifamily Energy and Water Management Toolkit.
In August 2014, SAHF released a report discussing investor consents on energy and water efficiency improvements. The paper discusses why the achievement of investor consents is considered a challenge; what the owner and investor viewpoints are when it comes to energy and water improvements to a property; the review process followed by investors; how the type of investor will impact the decision process; and considerations for improving the approval process. The report can be found here.
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 and The Kresge Foundation. We also would like to recognize the programmatic support we have received from the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Innovation Pilot Program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Energy Innovation Fund, The New York Community Trust, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Capital One Bank, NeighborWorks America, and The Joyce Foundation.