Virginia has the 11th largest multifamily housing stock in the country, making up 15.5 percent of the Commonwealth’s total housing stock. Most of this housing (47 percent) was built before 1980 (before building codes were widely adopted), presenting both a need and opportunity for investment in energy efficiency. With full deployment of energy efficiency in multifamily housing, Virginia could cost-effectively achieve a reduction of as much as 28 percent in electricity use, saving families money by lowering their electricity bills. This is particularly important in Virginia where almost one-quarter of very low-income households reside in multifamily rental housing, and many are forced to choose between paying their utilities and covering essentials such as groceries or healthcare costs.
States across the country are increasing commitments to energy efficiency to achieve environmental, economic, and health benefits for their residents. But the Commonwealth lags behind several of its peers, ranking 29th in energy efficiency when compared to other states, according to the 2017 scorecard of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). This report shows that investment in energy efficiency is a cost-effective way to maintain safe and healthy affordable housing, promote local job growth, and build a stronger economy for all Virginians. Increasing energy efficiency could make housing more affordable for thousands of Virginia households by alleviating household energy burden, the measure of a household’s energy spending as a percentage of its income. In this metric , low-income households, many of which are renters in multifamily housing, spend two to three times what an average household spends on energy as a percentage of income, a statistic that holds true in two of Virginia’s larger cities, Richmond and Virginia Beach.
Though the report focuses on the potential benefits to multifamily renters, it also expounds on the benefits that these improvements carry for building owners, utilities, a nd Virginia’s ratepayers. The report also analyzes what greater multifamily efficiency would mean for Virginia in terms of meeting its energy and other policy goals. While Virginia has made some progress to-date in expanding efficiency opportunities for the multifamily sector, barriers continue to exist. This report provides an in-depth assessment of the current barriers to energy efficiency for this sector while providing solutions that can help address these problems.