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Making Sense of Your Multifamily Housing Stock

The purpose of this document is to provide a framework for city policymakers, program administrators, and energy efficiency advocates to characterize and segment a community’s multifamily1 building stock as a tool to promote water and energy efficiency and combat climate change. Its sheer size makes multifamily housing key to meeting city-wide water and energy efficiency goals. It accounts for approximately 25 percent of all housing units in the United States1 and houses 20 million families. Research has shown that the multifamily market is an untapped reservoir of energy savings. The part of the multifamily market that is affordable to lower-income households could save up to 30 percent on electricity and gas costs with off-the-shelf energy efficiency improvements.

And yet, despite its size and savings potential, the multifamily market is underserved by existing energy efficiency programs. The primary reason is a lack of data and understanding about the multifamily housing stock in most cities in the public and private sectors. Another barrier to effective delivery of energy efficiency programs to the multifamily market is its diversity and complexity.

A general one-size-fits-all approach to energy efficiency is ineffective when trying to serve a building type as diverse and challenging as the multifamily market. The first step toward understanding a community’s complex multifamily buildings is to complete a market segmentation and characterization. This approach divides the multifamily market according to its building characteristics, ownership structures, tenant affordability, and financing.

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