Multi Family and Residential Properties

MULTI-FAMILY BUILDINGS – CEA

Sustainable Environments specializes in improvements to multifamily buildings, having audited and upgraded more than one thousand units over the past three years. We’ve saved tenants hundreds of thousands of utility dollars, and increased their comfort and safety at the same time.

This means happier tenants who pay higher rents for apartments that cost less to operate and who are less inclined to move because they appreciate living in a safe and comfortable place.

Apartment buildings are improved by a process of evaluation, analysis, and modeling. In the Clean Energy Atlanta program the process for auditing multi-family buildings (defined as a building containing four or more living units and organized under one tax assessment) is a variation on commercial auditing and has some unique requirements.

WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT MULTI-FAMILY PROPERTIES

The only residential buildings to qualify for the CEA PACE program are multi-family properties. Single family and condominium residences do not qualify.

Multi-family properties are buildings with multiple living units that are owned by a single landlord and are rented for residential use. They may have common or individual heating and cooling, domestic hot water, ventilation, and electrical service, but the units are completely separate from one another from an occupancy perspective.

Multi-use properties with a combination of living apartments and commercial space qualify for the program but need to be modeled separately.

Appliances, personal water use, pets, nighttime more than daytime occupancy, and noise considerations, are some of things an auditor needs to sort out when auditing a multifamily building.

AUDITING

Properties that have never been professionally evaluated need to be audited. ASHRAE publishes a very specific protocol for building assessment called “Procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits”. We perform ASHRAE Level 1,2,and 3 audits on multi-family buildings according to this protocol. The task is to benchmark the consumption of the buildings, determine the condition and design of the building components, and explore the cost and savings potential of improvements.

The difference between the levels is explained below, but the audits are cumulative (each level uses information from the audit below it), and are sometimes done in steps or all at once. CEA requires a level 3 audit in order to provide owners with certified, computer-modeled,
savings projections for recommended improvements. Level 3 also allows us to get detailed with the specific and unique characteristics of multi-family properties.

IMPROVEMENTS

Our CEA improvement upgrades are a collaborative effort, on both the auditing and contracting sides. We have associations with accountants, engineers, architects, and specialty service providers that allow us to build the right team to thoroughly but efficiently analyze each project and recommend the best and most cost effective improvements.

We also have relationships with general contractors that have a variety of specialization, and some of the most competent subcontractors and distributors in the city. We work with the most appropriate General Contractor for a job to put together a selected group of subs that will get the job done correctly and professionally.

You get a lot of competent people working on exactly what you need without having to pay for a lot of people and overhead that have nothing to do with your project.

RATE ANALYSIS, MONITORING and THIRD PARTY METERING

Not long ago utility bills were a pretty straightforward affair. Not anymore.

Georgia Power has 16 different commercial and industrial electric rate structures, with the possibility of more all the time due to the potential for dynamic pricing schemes.

The price of natural gas in Atlanta is deregulated, meaning you can buy gas for a variety of prices from numerous vendors. Larger customers can negotiate rates.

Atlanta Water Department doesn’t have as many price options but still has a few, especially for multifamily properties.

Being on utility rate schedules that are most advantageous for your building can save thousands of dollars per year for identical usage. There is certainly no assurance that the utilities themselves will make sure you are getting the most cost effective service possible.

An important part of a Sustainable Environments audit is to review utility bills to look for mistakes (more common than you might think), determine actual rates paid, and to make sure you are getting water and energy for the lowest cost possible.

If you choose, we will also explain the advantages, disadvantages and costs of monitoring and third party metering programs.

REBATES AND TAX INCENTIVES

All CEA energy and water conservation projects are entitled to an array of manufacturer and utility rebates and state and federal tax incentives.

An important part of a Sustainable Environments audit is to include the accumulation of these incentives into the improvement financial analysis so an owner can make decisions based on real net costs.