Multifamily buildings are inherently green, thanks to the way they support denser, transit-friendly communities. But they have a legacy to overcome. Uninsulated masonry buildings; antiquated heating systems; inefficient, ad hoc cooling—many aspects of typical multifamily construction and operation evolved in an era when energy was cheap. What's more, lower-quality products often appear in lower-income and affordable multifamily housing, contributing to poor indoor quality and potentially exposing our most vulnerable populations to toxic chemicals in building materials.
Seizing the opportunity, many designers and policymakers are working to better address mid-rise multifamily buildings. Good design, public policy, market incentives, developers who see the big picture, and new technologies all have a place in making our multifamily buildings greener.