Apartment buildings are major consumers of energy, especially older and larger units. Replacing and upgrading facilities is expensive, so many owners are reluctant to make those investments. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, however, calculated that improving efficiency of energy and water systems in the nation's 1.2 million public housing units would pay for itself in 12 years in reduced utility bills.
HUD Puts Up $23 Million
HUD is investing nearly $23 million to find new ways to reduce energy consumption and save money in older multifamily units. It is providing money to a dozen organizations around the country for specific projects looking to find new ways to improve the efficiency of heating, cooling and utility services in communities from coast to coast.
The HUD grants are being combined with $60 million in philanthropic, local and private capital to finance experiments for what HUD says is "a sector of the market that is currently wasting money heating and cooling buildings, some of which were built more than a generation ago." HUD says the pilot projects could lead to a national program to develop public/private partnerships that will reduce energy consumption and create new jobs.
Who Got Money
The largest single grant, $5.25 million, went to NRG Solutions of Boston for projects in New York, including New York City, and Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine. The Community Environmental Center got another $3 million specifically for work in New York City. Efforts in Philadelphia and Portland, Ore., each got $3 million, to Columbus Property and Management in Philadelphia and the Network for Affordable Housing in Portland.
Others Who Got Grants
Other HUD grants are funding pilot programs in Illinois, Colorado, Massachusetts and Newark, N.J., and a $1.5 million award to Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future in Washington, D.C., is a national effort. Grant recipients will partner with technology companies, academic institutions and apartment housing providers to develop and test ideas to improve energy efficiency in apartment buildings.
No Results for Some Time
The HUD grants were announced in March 2012, so it will be some time before any results are reported. Other similar efforts are under way. Bank of America put up $55 million in grants and low-interest loans to community development financial organizations in Boston, Seattle, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Baltimore and Philadelphia to encourage property owners to retrofit apartments for energy efficiency.
Bob Haring has been a news writer and editor for more than 50 years, mostly with the Associated Press and then as executive editor of the Tulsa, Okla. "World." Since retiring he has written freelance stories and a weekly computer security column. Haring holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.