Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version

Fall 12-6-2018


Maintaining the existence of affordable housing stock is an important goal for most cities and

communities, as well as at the state and national level. Compared to single-family housing, the multifamily housing sector poses a unique set of challenges and barriers related to investments in energy efficiency. With more than 50 million Americans, many of whom are low income, living in multifamily housing, this sector presents vast opportunities to reduce energy consumption. Reducing our carbon footprint has become an important issue in today’s society. More than ever, there is increased demand to incorporate ‘green’ sustainable design elements and technologies into new or rehabbed multifamily properties.

This research project examines the need for and benefits of energy efficiency in multifamily housing, as well as the challenges, barriers and incentives available to property owners/managers to invest in energy- efficient measures.

A 3-part, 11-question survey was administered to 15 selected multifamily property owners and managers in Lincoln, Nebraska. Specifically, the study sought to answer the following research question: What factors do multifamily property owners/managers and maintenance staff perceive as beneficial in improving energy efficiency? Survey questions focused on energy efficiency and sustainability efforts in multifamily housing related to heating and cooling systems, appliances, lighting, water consumption, and property amenities. Respondents were asked to identify energy-efficient sustainability measures from a checklist generated from the review of literature.

Respondents were asked to identify challenges, barriers, and incentives that discouraged or encouraged their adoption of energy-efficient conservation measures. Nine of the fifteen surveys were returned (60% response rate). The majority of respondents were property managers and maintenance staff (78%), reporting on properties with more than 100 units (78%) ranging in age from new to 30 years.

The literature review and research findings indicate that although multifamily residential properties present a tremendous opportunity for energy savings, property owners/managers are reluctant or unable to take advantage of energy efficient programs, investments and incentives, primarily due to lack of capital or financing as well as lack of control over tenant behavior. Respondents cited energy rebates and funding for alternative energies as incentives.