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Fannie Mae Releases Major Study on Multifamily Energy Use

Multi-Housing News

Sep. 11, 2014

Fannie Mae Releases Major Study on Multifamily Energy Use

By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Washington, D.C.—Fannie Mae released a major new report on energy usage in the multifamily sector on Thursday, “Transforming Multifamily Housing: Fannie Mae’s Green Initiative and Energy Star for Multifamily.” The report offers information the GSE’s Green Initiative, its partnership with the EPA, and comprehensive multifamily energy and water data—the first of its kind—which serves as the basis for the EPA’s Energy Star Score for multifamily.

Some takeaways from the report (including a few surprises) include the fact that affordable properties use 28 percent less energy per unit and are 29 percent smaller in square footage than market-rate properties. Market-rate units exhibit higher energy cost and use per square foot because there are more units per 1,000 square feet among affordable properties: 1.29 affordable units, versus 0.91 market rate units per 1,000 square feet.

The costs differentials because of energy efficiency can be very steep for multifamily, the report also says. The least efficient property may end up spending $165,000 more in annual energy costs than a similar property operating at peak efficiently. Also—and this is little surprise—when owners paid for all energy costs, median annual energy use was 26 percent higher than when tenants were responsible for paying energy costs.

Concurrent with the release of the report, the EPA says it’s making its Energy Star score available for the multifamily industry use as of September 16. The development of the score dates back to 2011, when Fannie Mae started collaborating with the EPA to develop the 1-100 score for multifamily properties, because previously no simple metric for multifamily energy performance existed.

According to Fannie Mae, the score will enable owners and operators of multifamily properties with 20 or more units to quantify the energy performance of their properties. The score represents a property’s percentile ranking compared with similar properties. For example, an apartment community with a score of 25 performs better than only 25 percent of other similar properties, but a property with a score of 75 performs better than 75 percent of its peers. Properties that earn an Energy Star score of 75 or higher may be eligible for Energy Star certification.

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