Water and energy consumption make up a large portion of the operating costs for public and assisted housing, estimated at $6.4 billion, or nearly 13% of HUD’s total budget in 2011. A report on HUD’s Green Retrofit Program (GRP) and the Energy Savers Program in Illinois shows that retrofits to multifamily properties assisted by programs administered HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs or USDA’s Rural Development produce significant energy savings and cost reductions. Energy and Water Savings in Multifamily Retrofits was written by Bright Power and issued by Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future.
The authors analyzed utility data from 179 GRP properties and 57 Energy Savers Program properties. Data were collected for both programs from the 12-month pre-retrofit period and the 12-month post-retrofit period.
The analysis shows that building energy consumption was reduced by 18% in the GRP properties, resulting in savings of $213 per unit per year, or $3.1 million across the 179 properties analyzed. Water consumption was reduced by 26%, achieving savings of $95 per unit per year, or $1.2 million per year for the 179 GRP properties. After retrofits, water and energy use intensity both exceeded the national average. Use intensity is water or energy use relative to space.
Energy and water GRP retrofits were also cost-effective, with energy savings resulting in a simple payback period of 15 years, and water savings resulting in a simple payback period of one year. Simple payback periods are calculations by dividing the cost of improvements by the annual energy savings. Both energy and water retrofits had savings to investment ratios greater than one, meaning that the retrofits pay for themselves over the course of their useful lives.
Properties with higher pre-retrofit energy and water use had the lowest energy and water use in the post-retrofit period. However, 9% of the properties studied showed an increase in energy and water usage, or fell short of savings estimates despite increased efficiency.
The Energy Savers Program, which only provided data on owner-paid natural gas utility bills, also produced significant and cost-effective energy savings. These 57 projects achieved a 26% reduction in gas consumption, resulting in savings of $383,000 per year. The simple payback period for the projects was 7.3 years, while the savings to investment ratio was 2.8, indicating that the retrofits will pay for themselves.
The authors suggest establishing a standard practice of collecting and analyzing data for all assisted multifamily housing energy and water retrofits. They also suggest that further research is needed on underperforming retrofits, the relationship between initial efficiency and potential savings, the optimal level of technical assistance to property managers or owners to ensure successful retrofits, and new approaches to increasing resident energy efficiency.
Energy and Water Savings in Multifamily Retrofits is at: http://bit.ly/1zjOyRo