Window of Opportunity for Multifamily Energy Efficiency Savings

Janice Boman

Snohomish Public Utility District is the second largest publicly owned utility in Washington State, serving over 320,000 electric customers. Recently, the utility showcased the tremendous impact made in just six months by the Community Energy Efficiency Program (CEEP) that the utility operated with Ecova’s help.

Designed to reach an underserved market in residential energy efficiency, the CEEP targeted multifamily structures of up to four stories with five or more attached units. Complexes that provided the greatest energy savings opportunity were prioritized. The work of the program had to be completed and paid for between January and June of 2013.

The utility selected Ecova to design and implement the multifamily program component. Ecova staff coordinated the selection, assessment, and approval of properties to be served through the program. During the six-month pilot, a total of 40 energy efficiency measures were put in place at 31 properties representing more than 4,400 multi-family residences. The total number of kWh savings for these projects came to 1,958,980 kWh, or an average savings of 404 kWh per apartment unit.

community energy efficiency program

In addition, Ecova staff coordinated with apartment on-site personnel to reach and encourage tenants to install efficiency measures. Promotional materials were distributed to encourage residents to attend events where Ecova showcased energy efficiency displays and the benefits of increased CEEP participation. Tenant events were highly engaging and fun, taking place in all kinds of weather—even snow! Nine events were conducted and approximately 468 tenants participated. Energy saving measures included the distribution of efficient showerheads and aerators and exchanges of incandescent bulbs for CFLs. The total amount of savings from these events was 99,824 kWh, averaging 213 kWh per unit with tenant installed measures.

The short timeline for the project intensified the expected program management challenges, however target customers in the District territory were greatly receptive to the program offering, and contractors were willing to participate as well.

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