Multifamily Buildings: Making Room for Energy Efficiency

Multifamily buildings make up more than 25% of the nation’s housing, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and that number is growing. Compared to single family homes, energy use per square foot of living space in multifamily buildings is about 40% higher.

By focusing on energy efficiency, you can reduce operating costs and improve resident satisfaction. Not only that, you can also increase occupancy rates and raise property values.

Energy-saving products

Comprehensive, cost-effective upgrades in multifamily buildings can improve efficiency by 15% to 30%, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The following upgrades in apartment units and throughout your facility will increase energy efficiency while making your property more attractive and affordable.

  • Energy-efficient lighting, such as LEDs, use at least 90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last much longer.
  • Smart thermostats in apartments and common areas save on heating and cooling costs by automatically adjusting room temperatures based on occupancy schedules. They also come with advanced features, such as self-programming and remote control.
  • Water-efficient fixtures, such as low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, can conserve water and reduce the amount of energy needed for water heating.
  • ENERGY STAR® appliances are more efficient than standard models while providing the same level of performance. You’ll save on energy costs, and high-performance appliances make a great selling point for prospective tenants.
  • Boiler tune-ups should include the inspection and cleaning of burners and heat transfer surfaces, an air-to-fuel ratio adjustment and the testing of controls. Schedule regular tune-ups if you use boilers for space heating or water heating.
  • Heating and cooling system upgrades are recommended if your current system is more than 15 years old. Replacing the old system with a properly sized ENERGY STAR-certified unit can substantially reduce your operating costs.
  • LED exit signs cost less to operate than traditional illuminated signs because of their energy efficiency and long life. They may cost more to purchase, but they more than pay for themselves in lower energy and maintenance costs.

Although these upgrades are a great place to start, building owners and managers can’t do it alone. Demonstrate to residents the measures you’ve taken to make your property more energy efficient and educate them on ways they can save energy and live more sustainably.

Not sure where to begin? FirstView for Multifamily Buildings from the New Buildings Institute can help you compare your building’s energy performance against similar facilities and prioritize retrofit projects.