Multifamily High-Rises Now Eligible for Energy Star

Washington, D.C.--When it comes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star, a highly coveted green stamp of approval, multifamily high-rises are now on equal footing with low-rise multifamily structures and single-family homes.

Washington, D.C.—When it comes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star, a highly coveted green stamp of approval, multifamily high-rises are now on equal footing with low-rise multifamily structures and single-family homes. The federal government agency just expanded the Energy Star eligibility to include both newly developed and extensively rehabilitated apartments and condominiums with four or more stories and a minimum of five residential units.

A building with the Energy Star is a building that not only contributes to the protection of the environment, but also provides residents with utility savings. In 2010, the Energy Star program paved the way for U.S. residents to pocket a total of roughly $18 billion that they would have otherwise spent on utility bills.

Expanding the reach of the designation marks a big step for Energy Star, which the EPA created in 1982. “Launching the requirements for qualifying new and substantially rehabilitated multifamily high-rise buildings as Energy Star completes the picture for EPA’s residential building program offerings,” the agency tells MHN. “Prior to the launch, the Energy Star new homes program covered approximately 95 percent of the residential building sector by qualifying single-family homes, low-rise multifamily units and manufactured homes. By closing this programmatic gap, the EPA is finally able to serve the entire residential building sector.

To obtain the Energy Star, a property must incorporate a host of energy-efficient elements. The list of requirements includes effective insulation systems; appropriately sized heating and cooling equipment; and tight construction and ducts. Additionally, residential units must feature high-performance windows, as well as Energy Star-rated lighting and appliances.

Last year, Energy Star mitigated greenhouse gas emissions tantamount to the annual emissions of 33 million vehicles. With more buildings now eligible for Energy Star, the figure is destined for an upswing, albeit a moderate one. “While new multifamily high-rise buildings are a small subsector of the residential building market and can therefore only contribute modestly to overall greenhouse gas emissions reductions, making them eligible for Energy Star helps round-out a program that contributes significantly to GHG reductions,” EPA added.

Allowing high-rise multifamily properties to achieve the Energy Star has additional advantages. A pat on the back can go a long way. “This building type has been underserved by high-performance building programs; therefore, by launching these requirements, EPA will be able to recognize developers who design and build high performance high-rise residential buildings that provide comfortable homes for their tenants.”