Energy and Water Research Survey Could Lead to ENERGY STAR Certification for Apartments


Image Depicting Energy Efficiency in the HomeThat iconic blue ENERGY STAR® sticker could be coming to your apartment property soon.

Industry officials are hopeful that a voluntary Multifamily Energy and Water Research Survey, which deadlines Nov. 1, will be the first step in the development of a universal ENERGY STAR energy performance scale and certification available for all multifamily properties.

The goal of the survey is to conduct market research on apartment properties and analyze energy and water usage and related costs paid by owners and tenants and to support a partnership with the EPA to explore the development of an ENERGY STAR 1-100 rating system for multifamily properties.

The survey, which began in June, asks property owners to provide information about a property’s physical layout as well as energy and water cost and consumption for 12 consecutive months covering 2011. The survey’s summary findings will be placed into a report and made available to those who complete the survey. Results could be made available as early as 2013.

The voluntary survey — which is being conducted by ICF International and is endorsed by the Commercial Real Estate Finance Council, the National Multi Housing Council, Urban Land Institute, and Fannie Mae Multifamily Business — is part of a broader national effort to understand trends in energy and water consumption and costs in multifamily properties.

According to the NMHC, the research project offers value to the apartment industry in a number of ways. Not only will it offer key takeaways for multifamily property owners and managers, but it also will help establish some benchmarks so that, in the future, lenders may consider energy and water usage among their underwriting criteria and provide more attractive financing terms for developers incorporating energy and water saving techniques and features.

Currently, apartment properties other than high rises can’t get an energy efficiency rating as a whole but many advertise ENERGY STAR features to attract environmentally-minded residents. An ENERGY STAR-labeled property could be icing on the cake in the lease-up race, according to industry experts.

Last fall, the Environmental Protection Agency rolled out a rating system for high-rise and substantially rehabilitated properties which is similar to the program available for 15 other building types, among them office buildings, schools, hospitals, residence halls and dormitories and senior care facilities.

The ENERGY STAR program, created in 1992, has been widely successful in promoting energy-efficient products and facilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to ENERGY STAR’s 2011 annual report, Americans prevented 210 million metric tons of Green House emissions in 2011 alone — equivalent to the annual emissions from 41 million vehicles—and reduced their utility bills by $23 billion.

Time will tell if all multifamily properties and apartment units can get a rating. Participating in the survey is a great way to build momentum to give properties a great marketing tool.

But hurry, the November 1 deadline is nearing.



Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

author photo two

Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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