The Cities of Berkeley, Oakland, and Emeryville, CA completed a report last year on local policy options for increasing energy efficiency in existing multifamily buildings. The report is one component of a project called Multifamily Building Energy Efficiency Solutions (BEES). The project is designed to identify the challenges and opportunities that building owners and tenants face when trying to lower their energy consumption, and to develop innovative strategies that support greater energy efficiency in apartments, condos, and cooperatives. More information on the BEES project is available.
Next steps in the project are focused on continuing to work with local property owners, managers and tenants to identify the best set of policy options for Berkeley, Oakland, and Emeryville.
The report, Increasing Energy Efficiency in Existing Multifamily Buildings: An Overview of Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy Tools, is designed primarily for local government policy makers. Solutions to address these barriers must not only be designed to increase energy efficiency, but must also be consistent with a community’s existing commitments to diversity and to providing healthy, affordable housing for residents.
Common barriers to increasing energy efficiency in existing multifamily buildings include:
While government and utility efforts to reduce energy use in existing multifamily buildings remain relatively limited compared to resources aimed at the single-family residential and commercial sectors, there are a growing number of government agencies and utilities across the country that are leveraging ratepayer dollars, one-time stimulus funds, and other resources with private sector investment to remove barriers to energy efficiency in existing multifamily buildings. The ultimate goal is sustained transformation in how the market functions, so that energy efficiency is business-as-usual for multifamily property owners, property managers, and tenants.
A fundamental takeaway from interviews with policy makers and multifamily property owners and managers that informed the study for this report is that achieving market transformation requires policy mechanisms that enable property owners to realize an economic return on investments in energy efficiency. Put another way, unless energy-related capital investments result in increased revenues or increased property value/equity, there is limited economic rationale for a multifamily building owner to make such an investment. Increased revenues can come in several forms, including:
This report outlines a range of policy mechanisms local and state governments and utilities are employing to achieve market transformation in existing multifamily buildings:
The intent of this report is to identify these policy mechanisms and to derive lessons learned that may inform multifamily energy efficiency policy design in the cities of Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, and beyond. These lessons will be considered in developing policy recommendations in later phases of the BEES project.
The two-year BEES project is funded by California utility customers and administered by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.