News Analysis

First Existing Multifamily Buildings Earn Energy Star Certification

Tenants are saving more than $500 a year in one of the first existing apartment buildings to be certified.

November 22, 2014

Until very recently, only newly constructed multifamily properties could earn an Energy Star label. Unlike commercial and institutional buildings, which could benchmark buildings through Energy Star Portfolio Manager, multifamily projects were required to meet prescriptive design requirements because there was no large bank of energy and water data to establish benchmarks for performance. But now, thanks to survey data provided by Fannie Mae, multifamily buildings have a reference for the amount of energy comparable buildings typically consume and can prove that they’ve crossed the Energy Star threshold of using an average 35% less than what’s conventional.

That’s big news for the nation’s nearly 500,000 existing multifamily buildings, and the label is easily within reach for many, according to an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) press release, given that a study by the Benningfield Group shows efficiency improvements of 30% in multifamily buildings by 2020 would be widely cost-effective. Spending $8 billion in upgrades would result in $9 billion in energy savings nationally, according the study—a relief for renters, who, the Institute for Market Transformation estimates, have seen energy costs climb by 20% on average over the past ten years.