States and cities are increasingly looking at mandatory building energy performance standards (BEPS) or emission caps to reduce carbon emissions from large buildings and meet their greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals. The emergence of these policies raises several important equity considerations, including the potential for increasing financial burdens on providers and renters of affordable housing. This paper examines how policies to regulate energy use in buildings are and can be designed to ensure that low- to moderate-income households and communities of color are not negatively impacted. It compares the various approaches cities and states are taking to address affordable housing with these policies and the complementary policies they are adopting to help affordable housing owners comply with the requirements. It also includes a deep-dive look at the implementation of Washington, DC’s BEPS policy, including the results of a stakeholder engagement process that occurred to inform how the city should reflect the unique challenges faced by affordable housing owners as part of the city’s rulemaking process.
This paper was published as part of the ACEEE 2020 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. The Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) also published a summer study paper on Building Energy Performance Standards titled Understanding the Housing Affordability Risk Posed by Building Performance Policies. Visit IMT’s website to view their paper.