Affordable Housing Goes Green with $12 Million Energy Efficiency Program

Enterprise Community Partners has formed the National Multifamily Energy Services Collaborative with the Center for Neighborhood Technology Energy, LINC Housing and the Hispanic Housing Development Corporation. The Collaborative will design and implement green services for affordable multifamily properties.

Columbia, Md.—By now, people are aware of how important going green is for the multifamily industry—it’s better for the environment, and it also often provides money-saving benefits. Because of this, Enterprise Community Partners Inc. has formed the National Multifamily Energy Services Collaborative (The Collaborative) with the Center for Neighborhood Technology Energy (CNT), LINC Housing and the Hispanic Housing Development Corporation. The Collaborative will design and implement green services for affordable multifamily properties.

The Collaborative is a $12 million program. It received funding, leveraged and matched by Enterprise with public, private and philanthropic funding, from a recent grant of $2.8 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Energy Innovation funding.

“There are a lot of entities all trying to figure [retrofitting] out, and that’s a real barrier to creating a scalable retrofit marketplace, because at the end of the day, there are no real standards or no real operating procedures to take advantage of the economies of scale that come when we’re all heading in the same direction,” Dana Bourland, vice president, Enterprise Green Communities, tells MHN. “It was our idea through The Collaborative that we would create a national platform to standardize the operating procedure to retrofitting existing multifamily affordable buildings.”

Enterprise and CNT will standardize business plans, protocols, technical assistance and a shared data platform. LINC and HHDC will apply this standardized approach to delivering services to properties they own and operate.

“We will work to standardize the approach to working with owners of portfolios and figuring out how best to assess the retrofitting opportunities in that portfolio, to engage the maintenance staff, to train residents and engage them in how to use the building, as well as standardizing how we’re collecting data and benchmarking the performance of buildings, how we’re measuring that there are indeed improvements, and also working on standardizing some of the financial vehicles to make these retrofits possible,” Bourland says.

This program will explore the possibility of providing a new service delivery model that can be replicated and taken to scale. These services will include improvements made through operations and property maintenance practices to complete retrofits of multifamily properties, with the goal of reducing energy consumption an average of 20 percent.

“What we’ll see is a reduction in energy usage,” Bourland says. “Other environmental benefits will be how we do the retrofit, and looking for ways to reuse materials we’re taking out and recycle the products that are coming out of the building as we’re replacing them. But the biggest environmental benefits are going to be the reduction in water usage and reduction in energy consumption.”

According to Bourland, The Collaborative is a two-year effort from HUD, but she believes they’ll see results even sooner than that.

“We’re thrilled to be working with such high-caliber partners in the collaborative,” Bourland says. “We’re really looking forward to sharing our learnings along the way and figuring out how to scale this sooner rather than later, and really improve as much of the existing multifamily affordable housing stock as we can.”