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.


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