THE CLIMATE CHANGE bill making its way through Congress has several provisions with big implications for multifamily owners and developers.
The industry's biggest concern is a mandate that each state adopt aggressive energyeffi cient measures in its building codes for new construction and substantial rehabilitation projects. The bill requires the adoption of codes that exceed current codes by 30 percent, while mandating a 50 percent improvement over codes released after 2015.
Achieving those levels of energy efficiency so quickly is largely undoable, according to the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC). “It's very aggressive,” says Paula Cino, director of environmental policy at NMHC. “We're hoping for recognition that the existing targets are somewhat arbitrary; our research shows that it's not really achievable.”
Another aspect of the bill is a disclosure/ labeling provision that would force all multifamily buildings to have an energy grade, akin to the miles-per-gallon sticker on a car. But there are several questions yet to be answered regarding energy labeling. The first is whether a property's energy efficiency will be measured “as designed” or “as operated.” Another roadblock is the lack of a standard for measuring a multifamily property's efficiency.
“While we support voluntary labeling programs, we have concerns that the bill could lead to a mandatory labeling requirement,” says Eileen Lee, NMHC's vice president of environmental policy. “The problem with mandatory labeling is that there's no rating system for multifamily properties yet.”