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Supporting Commercial to Zero Emissions Housing Toolkit

This toolkit provides information about a select set of technical and financial resources to support financially viable and zero emissions pathways for office-to-housing conversion. This list is not exhaustive of all potentially relevant technical and financial resources and has been curated for use in concert with the White House Commercial-to-Residential Federal Resources Guidebook.

The Commercial-to-Residential Guidebook includes over 20 federal assistance programs that can be used to support conversions, including low-interest loans, loan guarantees, grants, and tax credits from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Department of Treasury.

Technical Guidance and Resources

When an office building is converted to housing, it may require new plumbing, new heating and cooling systems, and a new envelope with new windows, doors, and wall systems. This can be an opportune time to invest in measures that cut a building’s operating energy costs and emissions. The following technical guides can help commercial building owners create successful pathways to office-to-housing conversions.

Advanced Energy Design Guides
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES),  U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the Department of Energy (DOE)
The Advanced Energy Design Guides—Achieving Zero Energy series  (the “Guides”) provides a cost-effective approach to achieve advanced levels of energy savings across building sectors, including multifamily and small-to-medium office buildings.  The Guides offer contractors and designers the tools, including recommendations for practical products and off-the-shelf technology, needed for achieving a zero-energy building. A zero-energy building is defined as a building that, on an annual basis, draws from outside resources equal or less energy than it provides using on-site renewable energy sources. These Guides have been developed through collaboration to help meet all of an owner's energy performance requirements. To promote building energy efficiency, ASHRAE and its partners have made these Guides available for download (PDF) at no charge.

  • Multifamily Buildings
    This Guide applies primarily to construction of new multifamily buildings covered by American National Standards Institute (ANSI), ASHRAE, IES Standard 90.1 up to twenty floors. Much of the guidance also applies to retrofits of existing buildings, depending on the depth and breadth of the retrofits. Space types covered include:
    • Independent tenant living spaces with units ranging from one to three bedrooms, where each unit has a kitchen space, bathroom(s), bedroom(s), and living spaces;
    • First-floor spaces such as common meeting spaces, a workout room, and staff/management offices or low-energy-density mixed-use spaces such as light retail and leased offices;
    • Vertical transportation (elevators) and
    • Laundry facilities.

The Guide establishes a set of energy performance goals for achieving zero energy. The goals are provided for all ASHRAE climate zones, in both site and source energy. Strategies on how to achieve these energy targets are provided throughout the Guide.

  • Small to Medium Office Buildings
    This Guide also applies to small to medium office buildings, which are office buildings ranging from roughly 10,000 to 100,000 ft2 with a building height of less than 75 ft. Space types covered by the Guide include:
    • Office areas
    • Circulation spaces
    • Storage areas
    • Break rooms (with a refrigerator, ice machine, dishwasher, microwave, sink, small appliances, and vending)
    • Small data centers/closets
    • Workout rooms
    • Conference and meeting spaces

The Guide does not consider specialty spaces with extraordinary heat generation, large ventilation requirements, or pollution generation. The Guide establishes a set of energy performance goals for achieving zero energy. The goals are provided for all ASHRAE climate zones, in both site and source energy. Strategies on how to achieve these energy goals are provided throughout the Guide.

Financial Resources

Better Buildings Funding and Incentives Resource Hub
The Better Buildings Funding and Incentives Resource Hub provides information about the many rebates, funding opportunities, and other incentives including those available through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Select Inflation Reduction Act Provisions
The IRA included billions of dollars in climate-focused grants and loans that can bring more capital to office-to-housing conversions through incentives for buildings. IRA also expanded several energy-related tax incentives to further reduce the cost of conversion to zero-energy housing. The table below highlights select federal financial resources through IRA potentially relevant for office-to-housing conversions, subject to meeting relevant eligibility requirements.  For the IRA tax related programs, please refer to the relevant IRS websites for the most up to date information on program and eligibility requirements. 

  • 45L New Energy Efficient Home Tax Credit
    Up to $2,500 for multifamily dwelling units certified to an eligible version of the EPA’s Energy Star Multifamily New Construction Program and up to $5,000 for units certified to the applicable DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes program.
  • 179D Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Deduction
    Up to $1.00 per square foot deduction for energy efficiency improvements to the following systems in commercial buildings: interior lighting; heating, cooling, ventilation, and hot water; and building envelope. Eligible to multifamily buildings greater than three stories high, within the scope of ASHRAE Reference Standard 90.1. The tax deduction amount can increase fivefold if the project meets prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements.
  • Investment Credit (48, 48E)
    For projects that begin construction before 2025, tax credit up to 6% for investment in renewable energy projects including fuel cells, solar, geothermal, small wind, energy storage, biogas, microgrid controllers, and combined heat and power properties. The investment credit can increase fivefold if the project meets prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements. Two bonuses of up to 10 percentage points are also available for projects meeting domestic content criteria and/or projects located in energy communities. For projects placed in service in 2025 or later, the credit is replaced to be technology-neutral. Click here for a Summary of Inflation Reduction Act provisions related to renewable energy, and here for the Prevailing Wage and Registered Apprenticeship Overview.
  • 30C Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Tax Credit
    Tax credit of 6% of the costs for qualified alternative fuel vehicle refueling property, placed in service in low-income and non-urban areas. This tax credit can increase fivefold if the project meets prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements.
  • DOE’s Loan Program Office
    Below-market interest rate loans and guarantees that could support innovative zero emissions buildings. For example, projects that include a virtual power plant may be eligible.  (NOTE: While LPO's loan guarantees can be stacked with certain tax credits, including energy production and investment tax credits, DOE cannot issue loan guarantees to projects that are expected to benefit from certain other forms of federal support (“Federal Support Restriction”), including grants, cooperative agreements, or other loan guarantees from federal agencies or entities). Building projects that have a State Energy Financing Institution partner are exempt from certain eligibility criteria.
    If the project qualifies as an "energy-related" project, most of the costs would be eligible including the acquisition costs, labor costs, architectural costs, equipment, etc.  More details here.
  • Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund
    $27 billion that will provide funding for clean energy projects, including cost-saving retrofits of existing homes and buildings, construction of zero emissions buildings, and commercial-to-residential conversions.