In a newly released report titled Transforming Multifamily Housing: Fannie Mae’s Green Initiative and Energy Star for Multifamily, Fannie Mae outlines their new green initiative and scoring system, which aim to make efficiency upgrades in multifamily housing more affordable via loans for property improvements. The report includes key findings from surveying multifamily owners, a breakdown of the kinds of loans available for affordable and market rate housing, and a developed rating system for the efficiency of multifamily buildings launched for public use by the multifamily sector this week.

By partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 for a survey initiative that included more than 1,000 multifamily building owners across the US, Fannie Mae developed a new metric for rating the efficiency of buildings. The 100 ENERGY STAR score for multifamily properties, now available for any multifamily owner to use, aims to make understanding multifamily building performance simpler by comparing it to similar buildings. The score— from 1-100— stands for the percent more efficient a multifamily building is to its peers. For example, if a building is scored at 30, it means that building performs 30% more efficiently than similar buildings. Those buildings that earn a score of 75 or higher are eligible for the ENERGY STAR certification.

According to the report, if the US multifamily housing stock reduced its electricity use by 15% and gas use by 30% the aggregate savings would amount to $3.3 billion. In addition to saving multifamily owners money via upgrades, the report touts cost effectiveness for residents via special loan programs from Fannie Mae specific to affordable housing that receive government subsidies as well as market rate multifamily.

Key findings from the market research survey include the determination that the least efficient properties use more than three times the amount of energy as well as six times the amount of water per square foot compared to the most efficient properties. This can equate to least efficient multifamily properties spending up to $165,000 more in energy costs each year. The survey also found that high-rise properties use about 10% more energy than low-rise counterparts and buildings in the West used about 50% more water than those in the Northeast.

Here is a breakdown of multifamily water use by US region:

Additionally, median energy use was 26% higher when building owners paid for energy use than when tenants paid for their own energy costs. Finally, typical small multifamily building— five to 49 units— used almost four times the amount of energy per square foot than those with three hundred plus units.

The survey Mae received a total of 1,163 responses from multifamily buildings in affordable, market rate, and senior housing. The report highlights correlations between water and energy use and such factors as climate and location, building type and occupant density. Report data ranges from energy use and water use by region, property type, and affordable versus market rate housing, all used to determine the new 100 ENERGY STAR score system for multifamily.

Do you think the new 100 ENERGY STAR score will be the new leading green building certification for multifamily?

For more information, view the full report.

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