US: Affordable housing needs more support to comply with Building Performance Standards

(ACEEE blog, 17 Jan 2024) Building performance standards are a key policy for meeting decarbonization goals, but because the upfront costs can be a challenge, the standards should be accompanied by sufficient financial resources and technical assistance for affordable housing.

State and local governments are increasingly turning to building performance standards (BPS) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy use in existing buildings. BPS require some existing large and midsized commercial and residential buildings—including multifamily housing—to lower their energy use intensity, GHG emissions intensity, or both.

A new report ACEEE released today outlines the unique challenges affordable housing faces with BPS compliance, such as the lack of upfront capital for energy efficiency improvements, technical expertise to complete upgrades, Read the Reportand the need to sometimes complete health and safety upgrades to properties before energy efficiency upgrades can take place.

For example, some units may need roof or structural repairs before property owners can make energy efficiency improvements. Some of these challenges are compounded by a history of disinvestment in the communities where these buildings are located. BPS have the potential to bring long-needed benefits to renters who have too often been excluded from the advantages of energy efficiency, such as lower utility bills and better indoor quality, but property owners of affordable housing face challenges which could result in negative consequences for residents as well.

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ACEEE blog, 17 Jan 2024: US: Affordable housing needs more support to comply with Building Performance Standards