Partners Pilot Nation’s 1st Multifamily Resilience Assessment Tool in D.C.

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Jun 11, 2019

In 2018 the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) launched the nation’s first multifamily housing resilience assessment tool to support preservation of the District’s affordable housing stock. DOEE provided funding to develop the tool and run pilot resilience audits to a partnership led by Better Buildings Financial Ally Enterprise Community Partners, together with the National Housing Trust, New Ecology, Inc., and Clean Energy Group. Three Better Buildings Challenge multifamily partners participated in the 2018-2019 resiliency audit pilot in Washington, D.C.: NHT Communities, Washington D.C. Housing Authority, and WinnCompanies.

Funded through DOEE’s Solar for All Program, the project advances the goals of Climate Ready DC, the District’s plan to prepare for the impacts of climate change such as heatwaves, severe storms and flooding. The partnership first developed the Resilience and Solar Assessment Tool with the aim of assessing the vulnerability of affordable housing properties to these impacts, and identifying resilience upgrade opportunities including the installation of solar PV arrays with battery storage systems. The partnership then conducted pilot resilience assessments of at least 20 affordable housing properties and shared reports with property owners in a dedicated counseling session.   

Lessons Learned:

  • To enable implementation of many physical resilience strategies, assessments are best conducted when planning a refinance, capital investment, or redevelopment project.  Affordable housing owners have limited capacity to assess resilience in their portfolios. Aligning these assessments with scheduled rehabilitation work maximizes staff/resource efficiencies.
  • Emergency planning can and should be conducted at any time, however, and should involve residents.
  • Owners approach resilience in their portfolios in a wide variety of ways, depending on their ownership type, property locations, and internal priorities. 
  • There is an ongoing need for energy efficiency expertise to continue to improve the operating performance of affordable housing in D.C. Some pilot participants found the most value in the energy and water efficiency portion of the assessments.


Enterprise and its collaborators are currently evaluating larger-scale implementation strategies. The assessment tool is intended to help Washington, D.C. achieve its goals of increasing the climate resilience of affordable housing properties, reducing energy use, cutting energy bills, and increasing solar power. The program seeks to influence the broader affordable housing sector to design, develop and operate climate-resilient, energy-efficient and solar-ready homes. The tool is now available on Washington D.C.'s Department of Energy and Environment website. For additional information please contact Laurie Schoeman, Enterprise Community Partners.