Multi-family and Energy Efficiency Cross-Collaboration in Atlanta Proves its Reputation as a Hotbed for Sustainability

In October, Dr. Kathleen Hogan of the Department of Energy kicked off a multi-family housing roundtable discussion with the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge (ABBC) at the offices of Central Atlanta Progress. The event was an opportunity for Atlanta-based stakeholders to engage in a wide-ranging and productive conversation around increasing energy and water efficiency for multi-family housing.

The meeting came as ABBC’s multi-family housing program prepares for an expansion in 2015, thanks to a new grant funded by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) through their the Energy Efficiency for All Project and the City Energy Project. Atlanta’s new Affordable Multi-family Housing Challenge (AMHC) will be one of only three pilots in the country to launch this year.  Chicago, Kansas City and Los Angeles have each launched Affordable Multifamily City Challenge Pilots as well.

The program will give participants the tools and guidance they need for reducing energy and water costs, incentives for resource-efficient retrofits and utility bill analysis for energy benchmarking.

Atlanta’s Better Buildings Challenge groundwork has served this new program well, as all multi-family housing facilities that sign up for the city’s AMHC will automatically enroll in the ABBC.

Dr. Hogan’s co-presenters at the roundtable were AJ Robinson of Central Atlanta Progress, Willie Taylor of the regional Department of Housing and Urban Development, Stephanie Stuckey Benfield of the Atlanta Mayor’s office of sustainability and Dennis Creech of Southface Energy Institute. Also attending the roundtable were representatives from the Midtown Alliance, Livable Buckhead, National Housing Trust, Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta and Georgia Power.

The group explored the challenges and opportunities with energy and water efficiency programs for multi-family housing, including data collection and tenant education. Dr. Hogan also discussed the new Better Buildings Energy Data Accelerator, which gives a path for local governments to join forces with their utilities to make it easier for commercial and multi-family building owners. The goal is to gain access to whole-building energy use data, which is a perpetual challenge for multi-family housing, particularly in the Atlanta region.

The Affordable Multi-family Housing Challenge is an important bridge between the energy efficiency and multi-family housing networks—we look forward to learning from their experiences and sharing the results of this pilot with other cities and multi-family housing partners.