Case Study: Multifamily Property Energy Efficiency Programs

Building Strong Relationships to Deliver Successful Multifamily Programs

Although ample energy savings opportunities exist in multifamily buildings, this remains an underserved segment in utility territories across the country. Two common hurdles can prevent utilities from running successful multifamily programs: 1. Convincing property owners to participate and 2. Developing the program as a part of a commercial program rather than as its own effort.

Property owners are sometimes hesitant to invest when they are not fully responsible for energy costs and may not understand how they can benefit from the savings. On the utility side, multifamily initiatives often fall under commercial programs, which may not be tailored to the specific energy efficiency needs of multifamily properties, leaving a lot of savings on the table. Ecova’s comprehensive approach to Multifamily Efficiency Programs is one of the best ways for a property owner to truly achieve maximum savings.

Ecova implements multifamily programs from beginning to end—from lead generation and qualification, to contractor engagement and measure installation, to rebate processing and post-installation inspections for quality control—making the entire process simple for the utility and property owners.

The key to this program is Ecova’s ability to build strong ongoing relationships between utilities, contractors and property owners to develop comprehensive and long-term energy efficiency plans.

Our expert three-tiered approach includes:

  1. Simple measures like no-cost direct installations that provide immediate savings for tenants—such as CFLs, faucet aerators, efficient showerheads, pipe wrap and more
  2. Common area measures for direct savings to the property owners
  3. More capital-intensive shell projects like insulation, windows, water heaters and more. Not only do these efforts reduce energy costs, they increase property values



Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is headquartered in Bellevue, Wash. and serves approximately 1.1 million electric and 750,000 natural gas customers in a 6,000 square mile region of Western Washington. The utility offers a number of energy efficiency programs under its Customer Solutions Energy Efficiency program umbrella, but one area identified as underserved was the residential multifamily segment. With approximately 450,000 apartment units in the region, this segment provided a large untapped source of energy savings.

Although PSE’s commercial efficiency programs had offered disparate contracts for individual measures, they felt that bringing them under one Multifamily Retrofit Program would increase opportunities for customer participation. Since 2006, Ecova has managed PSE’s program and continues to strengthen the relationship between PSE and its multifamily customers.

Ecova currently leverages marketing collateral created by PSE to engage property owners in a conversation about energy efficiency and the benefits they— and their tenants—will realize with the energy audits and direct install measures. Ecova also works to train and manage the network of auditors and installers who perform the work and provides PSE with accurate and reliable program documentation, tracking and reporting.

Collaboration between PSE and Ecova over the first five years of the program resulted in over 34 million kWh in energy savings from direct-install measures, and 26.6 million kWh and 185,000 therms from shell and common-area measures.

These savings resulted from the completion of 3,378 unique projects at 1,020 multifamily properties (about 105,000 units) and the installation of 754,119 CFLs, 41,470 showerheads and 25,737 lengths of pipe wrap.

Over the last six years, Ecova has continuously improved program operations and shown an unparalleled dedication to ensuring the highest level of service to PSE’s customers. In 2011, Ecova worked closely with the PSE program team to refine incentive processing procedures to ensure accurate and timely delivery—resulting in a 100 percent success rate for the year. Ecova has cemented relationships with trade allies, building a robust support network to install common area lighting and shell measures in the PSE service territory. Because of the focus on relationship building and long-term planning, the program now sees most of its savings from larger shell measures rather than the direct install efforts.

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