ENERGY STAR Rating for Apartment Properties is Gaining Momentum


Will energy performance guides, like those used by KB Home in California, become the norm for the multifamily industry?

Riding the tide of a fast-moving multifamily industry, efforts to establish an ENERGY STAR® rating for apartment properties are building speed.

Participation in the voluntary Multifamily Energy and Water Research Survey that began in June has already exceeded expectations even though all of the results have not been tabulated, according to a discussion on energy and water conservation before a packed room at Monday’s National Multi Housing Council OpTech 2012 Conference in Dallas. Thus far, nearly 10 percent of 6,500 property owners asked to participate in the survey have responded.

ENERGY STAR spokesman Michael Zatz, one of three panelists who spoke about the survey and energy and water benchmarking, said acquiring complete utility information that includes that of the property and residents will determine whether or not a rating can be achieved.

Some properties, he said, may not be able to provide collective resident utility records because of confidentiality issues with utility companies.

Survey results so far have revealed that acquiring whole building data is difficult to get and that the multifamily housing industry, necessitating that utility companies must work together to establish complete data so a rating system can be me made, according to Fannie Mae spokesperson Chrissa Pagitsas.

Most respondents have been from larger rental properties – many of them garden-style apartments – in the northeast and southern U.S. Some complained that the survey is too long and counting energy usage assets like dishwashers and laundry hook-ups is too laborious, although most submitted totals.

An analysis of data collected won’t be complete until later in 2013.

About the Survey

ICF International – in cooperation with the Commercial Real Estate Finance Council, the National Multi Housing Council, Urban Land Institute and Fannie Mae Multifamily Business – conducted the survey to help establish energy and water consumption benchmarking with hopes of creating a universal ENERGY STAR energy performance scale and certification for the first time in the industry. The survey 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.

Once all the data is in, ENERGY STAR will determine if results are enough to establish a 1-100 rating an ENERGY STAR system similar to that for uses in commercial buildings. Rating proponents say that establishing a scale for the multifamily housing industry and creating more energy efficient apartments can potentially attract and retain renters, plus boost the value of the property up to 15 percent.



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

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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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