Better Buildings and NAA Team Up for Special Multifamily Workshop

By Cindy Zhu, DOE Fellow; Alison Berry, RE Tech Advisors on May 21, 2018

What do you get when you combine 40 attendees, 30 organizations, 4 federal agencies, and a sustainable caterer?

The answer is the NAA/DOE Better Buildings Roundtable!

The National Apartment Association (NAA) joined the Better Buildings Alliance as an affiliate partner in 2017, and almost immediately began discussions with the Alliance team on how they could provide focused sustainability and energy-efficiency content to their members – more than 75,000 multifamily property companies around the country representing 9.25 million rental housing units.

“This event was the perfect opportunity for NAA members to meet in person and continue building on the progress the rental housing industry has made around energy efficiency and sustainability,” said Bob Pinnegar, NAA’s Chief Executive Officer.

Better Buildings jumped at the opportunity to partner with the leading trade organization, so the NAA/DOE Better Buildings Round table went from brainstorm to reality, with a 2-day April workshop designed especially for the dedicated sustainability professionals among NAA membership. NAA member and newly-minted Better Buildings Challenge partner Bozzuto Management Company agreed to play gracious host at their headquarters in Greenbelt, Maryland.

This meeting was formatted as a semi-formal peer exchange, with speakers drawn from among NAA members and Better Buildings partners (with plenty of crossover) and help from our friends at Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star team, and Fannie Mae. Combined with content presented by DOE and NAA staff, the program offered 10 sessions on a range of topics:

  1. Communications: Sessions explored how to sell sustainability to both internal stakeholders and to residents, and the impact of GRESB and investor reporting.
  2. Financing: A discussion of the various financial tools available to make energy efficiency projects easier – including the Better Buildings Financing Navigator and the Fannie Mae Green Multifamily Loan program.  
  3. Operations and Maintenance: An assessment of energy efficiency and sustainability from the maintenance perspective, and how to make it a priority at the maintenance staff level.
  4. High Impact Technologies: Speakers shared innovative and cost-effective technology solutions that have worked for them, as well as their experiences with renewables and customized energy management systems. The audience also heard a presentation on Zero Energy Buildings from DOE’s Building Technologies Office.
  5. Data Driven Results: EPA Energy Star delivered the latest updates on the 1-100 Portfolio Manager Score for Multifamily and developments on waste scoring; Better Buildings highlighted the scope of resources and data support available to multifamily organizations.
  6. Materials Management and Recycling: A discussion of the effectiveness and affordability of recycling and materials management services in multifamily communities, and innovations on the horizon.  

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with NAA members already discussing hosting a similar event in 2019. “It’s great to be in a room with people who are focused on the same thing you are. This event was a great opportunity to share and learn,” said Juliette Apicella of Gables Residential (a Better Buildings Alliance partner).  

We look forward to ongoing conversations and continuing to move the market forward to the next iteration of multifamily energy efficiency and sustainability. We would like to thank our friends at NAA and Bozzuto for all their work helping us bring this event to life, and we’re especially grateful to our Better Buildings partners who attended. We’ll have more on the Roundtable soon, but for now, enjoy the photos!


                                    Roundtable attendees at Bozzuto HQ                                                                                      Director of DOE's Better Buildings Initiative Maria T. Vargas addresses the room


  Juliette Apicella (Gables Residential), Peter Zadoretzky (Bozzuto), and Joyce Mihalik (Forest City)                                    Attendees got a visit from Toby Bozzuto, President and CEO of the Bozzuto Group
                     discuss Selling Sustainability - photo credit to Holly Charlesworth, NAA 


Pablo Varela (Lendlease) and Darien Crimmin (WinnCompanies) present on renewables, EMIS,                         Cindy Zhu (DOE) showcases the benefits of Better Buildings, accompanied by Julia Hustwit (HUD)
      and other High Impact Technologies they've implemented at their respective properties. 
                                       and Alison Berry (RE Tech Advisors) - photo credit to Andrew White, RE Tech Advisors