National Church Residences: Process Standardization for Housing Portfolio LED Retrofits

National Church Residences provides home and supportive services for seniors and vulnerable individuals, with a portfolio of approximately 350+ properties – both owned and managed – in 27 states and Puerto Rico. The housing provider established a goal of completing LED lighting retrofit projects for as many sites as deemed eligible based on certain requirements and created standardization procedures and project eligibility criteria to identify those properties. The initial phase of 113 sites were retrofitted in 2016-2017. A second 2019-2020 phase is underway, focused on 71 sites. With these LED retrofits, National Church Residences aims to achieve improved facility energy efficiency, improved lighting quality, facility aesthetics, safety, and reduced energy costs moving forward. 

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  • Policies

    HUD requires that properties submit a Fund Authorization form 9250 in order to use reserve funds at that property.  National Church Residences developed a standardized application for all proposals submitted to HUD to ensure the same format was being used for all HUD eligible sites. 

  • Process

    The first step in the process was to determine a property’s eligibility for the lighting retrofit based on a ratio of project cost as a percentage of the property’s capital reserve funds. If the property had enough funds to cover at least triple the project cost, it was eligible.  Projects were allowed a maximum 5-year payback period.

    Eligible properties then received a no-cost on-site survey to determine project scope. Proposals were sent out for bid and the vendors were selected by National Church Residences’ Energy and Capital Planning team.  Contract language included capturing all active rebates and incentives offered by local utilities, municipal, or state government programs.

    Once the retrofit work was completed, project savings were tracked internally by the Energy and Capital Planning team. Savings or quality outliers were shared with vendors to address ongoing process improvement.

  • Outreach

    National Church Residences established a single, standardized process applicable to all properties and phases of the lighting retrofit initiative which included consistent messaging to property managers, vendors, and residents.  Communications were developed to introduce the project, conduct on-site surveys, present proposals to vendors, and submit presentations and messaging to HUD.  Outreach to property managers provided details of the process with step by step directions, including project payback, savings estimates, cost detail, and materials along with guidance for keeping the residents informed. 

  • Tools & Resources

    National Church Residences worked with vendors and property managers to develop an Excel-based project template for tracking progress made at each property.  This template aided in project communications, sourcing of vendors and quote submittals, as well as timely approval and turnaround from HUD and the local property asset management teams. 

  • Measuring Success

    All completed projects are reviewed to determine projected vs. actual savings and to track accuracy of project payback estimates. Source data is derived from benchmarked data originating through a partnership with Cass Information Systems, an information management and payment services consultant.

    Because improving resident quality of life indoors and out is a primary goal of the initiative, National Church Residences is seeking feedback from residents and staff on lighting quality and overall impact to the property. National Church Residences will use the feedback and performance assessments to plan and execute additional project phases. 

  • Outcomes

    In Phase 1, certain properties did not meet the cost-to-reserve ratio required to move forward. Others had pending projects that impacted their ratio, estimated paybacks exceeding targets, or pending building rehabilitations that already included lighting. Properties managed but not owned by National Church Residences presented more of a challenge based on differing goals of the properties’ owners.

    The first phase of the project generated $961,300 and 4,756,500 kWh in respective cost and energy usage savings. The average project payback was less than four years. The 2019-2020 phase is currently projected to yield $278,250 and 3,234,000 kWh in cost and energy usage savings. The average project payback for this scope is four years.

    National Church residences is currently reexamining all sites that were not executed during Phase 1. If their capital reserves have improved, they are included in Phase 2. The overall plan has been reduced to fall under cost and/or payback thresholds in order to move some projects forward. Dialogue and feedback continues between both executed and pending sites. Additional solutions are being reviewed which would provide alternative means to execute a potential third phase of sites.

National Church Residences standardized procedures and eligibility criteria for a portfolio wide lighting retrofit.


Affordable Housing


Needed to determine which properties qualified for a comprehensive lighting retrofit, but lacked standardized procedures and project eligibility criteria.


Created a standardized template and a cost-effectiveness test based on a ratio of project cost as a percentage of the property’s capital reserve funds.


Standardized procedures minimized project impacts on residents and efforts of staff required at each property. Standardization also provided a level of familiarity to property managers, making phase 2 project communications consistent with phase 1.