The California EEFA coalition hosted the Health in Every Home: Creating Comfortable, Safe, and Energy Efficient Places to Live convening on April 30th. The convening included 50 experts in affordable housing, equity, public health, energy efficiency, and state government. The convening tackled several important themes that underpin the creation of strategies that address the complex relationships between climate, equity, and health. These themes included:
- Funding the Gap: How can we address the funding gap to cover indoor health and energy improvements?
- Solving for health impacts through energy efficiency: How do we improve housing conditions to solve for indoor health impacts? How do we ensure energy efficiency measures are supporting resident health?
- Developing Healthy and Resilient Communities: How do we solve common indoor health issues facing low income communities and ensure residents benefit?
Follow-up to the convening will include work group discussions to further engage residents and deepen the integration of health into affordable multifamily upgrades.
The EEFA-GA Coalition hosted its second Energy Equity Forum in Columbus, GA on May 5th. The half-day forum brought together members of the community, local service providers, policy makers and advocates to discuss energy equity and access in the Columbus area. The forum provided an opportunity to discuss how high energy bills disproportionately impact low-income families, who often live in older, inefficient homes. Panelists also provided helpful information and resources to enable families to take control of their energy use, including descriptions of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), and Georgia Power’s Energy Assessment and Solutions Program (EASP). The event would not have been possible without the help of the Enrichment Services Program, United Way of the Chattahoochee River Valley, River Valley Regional Commission, Sierra Club, Georgia Power, Environment Georgia, and Solar Tyme. Photo credit: Georgia Watch
A new Efficiency for Affordable Housing (EFAH) program is soon to launch in Delmarva Power’s Maryland service territory. The Public Service Commission recently approved the program. The program is funded by $2.9 million in utility shareholder funds secured as part of a settlement agreement in the merger of Exelon-Pepco. EFAH will target multifamily buildings that are identified as being within limited income areas of Delmarva Power’s service territory as well as housing properties that are rent-restricted due to participation in a state or federal affordable housing program. The program will improve energy efficiency in affordable multifamily dwellings through building audits, a certified energy advisor, smart thermostats, LEDs, upgrades to HVAC systems, and high-efficiency hot water heaters and refrigerators.
The Coalition hosted two forums to advance multifamily energy efficiency solutions for small utilities and to educate lenders about the benefits of underwriting to energy efficiency savings:
Minnesota EEFA partners, inspired by Community Preservation Corporation’s (CPC) Energy Efficiency Underwriting Handbook, hosted an Energy Efficiency Underwriting Roundtable on May 16th to discuss the opportunity for Minnesota’s affordable housing developers to get bigger first and second mortgage loans on the basis of projected lower operating expenses due to energy efficiency. Representatives from Old National Bank, Bremer Bank, TCF Bank, US Bank, and Wells Fargo heard from CPC’s Elizabeth Kelly and shared their experiences with energy efficiency underwriting. Minnesota’s Housing Finance Agency (Minnesota Housing) hosted the event, along with Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, National Housing Trust, and Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA). Also in attendance were representatives from Twin Cities LISC and Eutectics, a green lending shop that is working with local credit unions to finance clean energy projects.
The event’s organizers plan to build on this initial conversation with future roundtables and research projects that were suggested by attendees, including a lender-targeted energy efficiency technology primer, a database of energy efficiency underwriting deals, a resource for funding sources, education for appraisers, and guidance on incremental steps lenders can take to collect information to inform energy efficiency underwriting in future deals.
In addition, the Minnesota Multifamily Affordable Housing Energy Network (MMAHEN) hosted an event in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Connexus Energy that brought together more than 40 people representing utilities, weatherization providers, and owners/managers of affordable multifamily properties to learn about programs and to discuss how to partner more effectively to enhance energy efficiency in multifamily properties. The event, called the Local Partnership Exchange: Exploring Opportunities for Affordable Multifamily Energy Efficiency Collaboration, took place in Saint Cloud, MN. The attendees concluded that the biggest barriers to energy and water efficiency program implementation in affordable multifamily buildings is marketing, poor interaction between program providers, time constraints, technology, and funding. The discussions will continue in the future as MMAHEN will be mapping the overlap of the locations of affordable housing and service provider territories in other regions of the state to determine whether there are opportunities to replicate this type of local exchange in other parts of the state.
Ameren Missouri has proposed a 6-year energy efficiency plan that includes a budget of $26 million for low-income multifamily energy efficiency. Proposed annual budgets are an increase over current levels and in line with estimated costs from the 2015 EEFA Potential Study that documented 92,000 affordable multifamily households in the utility’s service territory
Ameren has also proposed an ambitious goal of achieving 15% average energy savings per participating property. To meet this goal, Ameren anticipates enhancing its current one-stop-shop model with more of a whole-building focus, providing higher rebates, and catering more to Low-Income Housing Tax Credit applicants, including providing rebates up to $10,000 for ASHRAE Level II energy audits. It has also proposed more convenient eligibility requirements.
Missouri EEFA partners Renew Missouri, National Housing Trust, and Tower Grove Neighborhoods Community Development Corporation conducted pre-plan conversations with Ameren over several months to ensure that Ameren’s proposed affordable multifamily program would be appropriately funded, well-designed, and that the Company would be properly motivated to achieve deep energy savings in each property. The proposed procedural schedule for the plan filing runs through late fall 2018.
The Virginia Multifamily Energy Efficiency Coalition, in partnership with Housing Virginia, the Campaign for Housing and Civic Engagement, and Virginia Supportive Housing, hosted a site visit on May 3rd of the New Clay House in Richmond, Virginia as part of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s “Our Homes, Our Voices” Affordable Housing Week of Action. Joined by Virginia State Senator Jennifer McClellan, visitors toured the New Clay House, which is currently undergoing renovations to meet EarthCraft Virginia green building standards and add a solar panel array onsite. Participants discussed the positive impact energy efficiency improvements have on keeping housing affordable by reducing building operating expenses. Once complete, New Clay House will continue to provide supportive housing to 80+ individuals in more spacious, healthier, and comfortable housing.
Read more about the event.
Photo credit: Virginia Multifamily Energy Efficiency Coalition