Retrofits Rise to the Occasion and Lower Costs


Bright Power and SAHF unveil results of the largest national multifamily retrofit study of its kind.

Industry professionals and efficiency proponents often lack data to verify that energy conservation measures live up to their claims.  As an organization dedicated to preserving affordable housing, the Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF) recognized the need for more robust and accessible multifamily retrofit programs. Efficiency retrofits have the potential to dramatically decrease operating costs, stabilize the cost of living for residents, and in turn, pay for themselves. In the world of affordable housing, those benefits are worth investing in.

With funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Bright Power was happy to dive head first with SAHF into what would become the largest analysis of pre- and post-retrofit data from multifamily energy and water retrofits to date. The study focused on two programs: HUD’s nation-wide Green Retrofit Program (GRP) and the Energy Savers program offered by Elevate Energy and the Community Investment Corporation (CIC) in Illinois. One year each of pre- and post-retrofit utility bills were collected for 236 properties, totaling 24 months worth of usage data per property, uploaded into Bright Power’s proprietary benchmarking software,EnergyScoreCards, and analyzed by dedicated members of our research team.

After all was said and done, what did we find? Retrofits work. Both programs showed significant cost, energy and water savings. The GRP reduced building energy consumption by 18%, resulting in a $3.1 million annual savings for the properties surveyed. On top of that, water savings generated a combined annual savings of approximately $1.2 million. In the Energy Savers program, gas consumption was reduced by 26% on average and an estimated annual savings of $381,000 for the 57 properties analyzed. In the most energy-intensive properties, Energy Savers reduced excess waste by an average of 47%.

Despite the overwhelmingly positive numbers, not all projects showed savings. This was in part due to changes in scope after projections had already been calculated which impacted the post-retrofit results. Further analysis of the specific measures taken at the property level is needed to pinpoint areas for improvement, a process which is crucial improving future programs and scaling up energy and water efficiency. We believe that our broader, results-oriented study opens the door for future studies to do just that.

With the results unveiled, our President, Jeff Perlman stated, “This study of the national data set shows that a wide variety of retrofit projects produced real, measurable energy, water and cost savings”. The report ultimately determined that these programs are saving energy and money and in doing so, helping affordable housing owners keep their communities efficient and affordable in the long run.