Efforts to “green” multifamily housing are hampered by a lack of good data, according to a report released on June 16 by RECAP Real Estate Advisors.
According to the report, nearly one-third of American families (over 34 million renters) live in multi-family properties. Many of these properties were built in or prior to the 1970s, before the statewide energy building codes were adopted. These old, and presumably energy inefficient, buildings have potential for significant energy and water savings through retrofit. However, the authors conclude that the these opportunities are not being seized with sufficient scale and effectiveness in part because of a lack of good data on current utility usage in both subsidized and market rate multifamily properties.
A thorough evaluation of all utility usage databases currently operated by federal agencies, private, and mission-driven organizations, shows that multifamily rental properties are woefully underrepresented in current databases, represent just 2-3% of the recorded properties. The evaluation also found that the most significant data collection efforts have been undertaken in the past five years. With collection efforts so new, there are still no industry standards for determining which variables merit collection or what best practices might be for accessing and aggregating the information. The report notes, however, the growing potential to build the necessary dataset, citing increased collaboration in the field and new database programs coming from each sector – federal, private, and mission-driven – that have either recently been, or are currently being built.
Multifamily Utility Usage Data: Issues and Opportunities identifies and analyzes building data and was completed by RECAP Real Estate Advisors and sponsored by Living Cities and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Multifamily Utility Usage Data: Issues and Opportunities is available at: http://backend.livingcities.org/_backend.livingcities.org/files/Living_Cities_Multi-family_Utility_Usage_Report.pdf