Promote energy efficiency in multifamily housing
Multifamily housing — particularly multifamily housing for low- and moderate-income families — is a particularly challenging area for energy conservation. Tenants have little financial incentive to invest in retrofitting their homes for energy efficiency because they do not own the building and often live there for only a short time. Landlords are often able to pass energy costs on to tenants, so they don't bear the cost of inefficiencies.
The State can encourage energy efficiency in multifamily housing by providing incentives to developers and owners. A large portion the low- and moderate-income multifamily housing is developed with the help of such public financing as low-income tax credits, housing trust funds, or bonds.
The State should attach "green strings" to this funding by requiring that developers meet energy efficiency standards in order to receive funding. Developers could qualify for more funding if they took more steps for higher levels of efficiency. Criteria should include such things as: insulation with an R-value suitable for the local climate; energy-efficient windows; Energy Star appliances; low-flow, water-sense faucets and showerheads; low-flow toilets; and highly efficient boilers and air conditioning systems. In most states, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program provides the greatest financial incentive for affordable housing development, so the program has become a prime green strings opportunity.
The State also can offer incentives by providing low-interest financing for measures that also reduce a property's operating costs. Loans could be made available to install, repair or replace heating systems, insulation, weather stripping, windows, appliances or other such energy-saving updates.
- Washington's Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard
The Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development created the Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard, a set of green building criteria that is required for any affordable housing project applying for state funds through the Washington State Housing Trust Fund. The standard is based on a system that awards points for a variety of sustainable building practices, including site locations and neighborhood planning; water conservation; energy efficiency; the incorporation of renewable technologies; improved indoor-air quality; and environmentally conscious construction practices and building materials.
— Washington's Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard (ESDS)
- Maine's Multifamily Home Energy Loan Program
The Maine State Housing Authority's Multifamily Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) provides low-interest loans for multifamily housing improvements that increase energy efficiency and conservation of resources. The program requires borrowers to have an energy audit conducted and to prepare a plan to address deficiencies. According to the Housing Authority, property owners who make improvements identified in an energy audit may reduce energy consumption by 15 to 20 percent.
— Maine's State Housing Authority
- California's Statewide Multi-family Energy Efficiency Rebate Program
The California Statewide Multifamily Energy Efficiency Rebate Program (MEERP) is a collaboration between the state's four major investor-owner utilities: Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Gas Company, and Southern California Edison. Under the program, both owners and tenants of multifamily properties can receive rebates on energy-efficient equipment, such as dishwashers, windows, and water heaters.
— Alliance to Save Energy