ENERGY STAR adds multifamily buildings to constellation | U.S. Green Building Council
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ENERGY STAR adds multifamily buildings to constellation

Published on Written by Posted in LEED

This article was co-written by Bryan Howard and Dan Winters.

In mid-September, multifamily buildings will now have the opportunity to submit via Portfolio Manager for a score, through the 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score for multifamily buildings. All properties scoring above a 75 may be eligible to earn ENERGY STAR certification.

Multifamily buildings can start as early as right now to input their data into Portfolio Manager to receive a score. To receive an accurate score you’ll need the following information:

  • 12 months of compete energy data for all fuels and meters on the property
  • Gross Floor Area for all buildings on the property
  • Total number of Residential Living Units
  • Total number of bedrooms

As with all LEED projects, if your multifamily building receives an ENERGY STAR, you can look for it on the Green Building Information Gateway.

What does this mean for LEED?

Measurement is the difference between “thinking” your building is performing as it should and “knowing” is it performing as it should. Recent updates to the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager now make it easier for multifamily projects to measure their energy use and benchmark performance so owners have a clearer picture of their energy consumption profile.

In LEED, existing multifamily projects can use the LEED Existing Buildings rating system to achieve certification (LEED v4/LEED 2009). With the expansion of ENERGY STAR eligibility to the multifamily sector, projects have a powerful tool at their disposal to help them achieve various ENERGY STAR credits including:

When using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, projects enter whole-building consumption data which can be a challenge for multifamily projects that are not master-metered. To address these cases when pursuing LEED certification, USGBC established a Residential Utility Sampling Protocol that allows projects to collect a statistically significant sampling of utility data from the residential unit space. 

What does this mean for the affordable housing community?

The release of this tool comes at an opportune time for the affordable multifamily industry. In 2013, to accelerate the efficient operations and maintenance of multifamily buildings, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) partnered to expand the Better Buildings Challenge to the multifamily sector

Participants include a number of housing authorities, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties, and HUD assisted properties. These owners are committing to reduce energy consumption by at least 20 percent over a 10-year period. This new multifamily designation in ENERGY STAR should help these participants and others when analyzing and documenting their successes in reducing energy consumption.

What does this mean for the REIT community?

For multifamily REITs and their private equity firm counterparts, the ENERGY STAR program allows executives to assess a property’s energy use and attain an energy measurement score. This information can inform building upgrade investment decisions, or when assessed over time, can factor into the buy / hold / sell equation. The ability to measure relative energy performance offers on-site management and leasing personnel new tenant engagement opportunities aimed at reducing energy consumption and related OpEx costs, typically through community communications, common area upgrades, or via new lease clauses. 

Benchmarking opportunity will shine for investments.

With more municipalities adopting benchmarking and transparency as a way to facilitate energy measurement and management in the private sector, use of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager should accelerate and early leaders will be well positioned in the market.

Read more about what this new ENERGY STAR program will mean for REITs and the market at large.

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Bryan Howard

Legislative Director
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