Report Highlights Energy and Water Savings in Assisted Housing Retrofits
A recently released report prepared by Bright Power and Stewards for Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF) discusses the results of energy- and water-efficiency retrofit projects for multifamily housing developments funded under HUD’s Green Retrofit Program (GRP) and the Illinois Energy Savers Program. The report, entitled “Energy and Water Savings in Multifamily Retrofits,” looked at the two programs’ realized energy and water cost savings and whether the retrofit projects were cost effective.
According to the report, water and energy consumption make up a large portion of the operating costs for public and assisted housing, estimated at $6.4 billion, or nearly 13 percent of HUD’s total budget in 2011. SAHF analyzed utility data from 179 GRP properties and 57 Energy Savers Program properties. Data were collected for both programs from the 12-month pre-retrofit period and the 12-month post-retrofit period.
The analysis shows that building energy consumption was reduced by 18 percent in the GRP properties, resulting in savings of $213 per unit per year, or $3.1 million across the 179 properties analyzed. And water consumption was reduced by 26 percent, achieving savings of $95 per unit per year, or $1.2 million per year for the 179 GRP properties.
The report also showed that energy and water GRP retrofits were cost-effective, with energy savings resulting in a simple payback period of 15 years, and water savings resulting in a simple payback period of one year. Simple payback periods are calculations by dividing the cost of improvements by the annual energy savings. Both energy and water retrofits had savings to investment ratios greater than one, meaning that the retrofits pay for themselves over the course of their useful lives.
SAHF suggests establishing a standard practice of collecting and analyzing data for all assisted multifamily housing energy and water retrofits. It also suggests that further research is needed on underperforming retrofits, the relationship between initial efficiency and potential savings, the optimal level of technical assistance to site managers or owners to ensure successful retrofits, and new approaches to increasing resident energy efficiency.