Property technology platform Plentific has partnered with global insights advisory GlobeScan to produce an ESG Retrofit report outlining the challenges, opportunities, and best-practice approaches to help landlords, property managers, and public housing meet challenging climate change targets.
The challenge is clear: buildings in the U.S. consume around 40 percent of the country’s total energy and account for 75 percent of electricity use. Twenty percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from residential energy use. The US aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 52 percent below its 2005 levels by 2030, equating to 43 percent when measured with a 1990 baseline.
While large homes tend to use more energy, lower-income households tend to be less energy efficient and more costly to heat and cool. During Spring 2019-20, 25 percent of low-income families struggled to pay their energy bills. Retrofitting could help tackle America’s most significant health, social and environmental issues.
The experts featured in the report offer key insights that can help real estate providers accelerate and improve retrofits. Some of these are:
- Multifamily housing is a strong entry point for retrofits in the US residential sector due to its more straightforward layouts and consolidated ownership structures, particularly among public and affordable multifamily developments
- Achieve energy star compliance – help identify easy wins and execute action plans to implement simple energy efficiency measures such as lighting upgrades
- Align improvements with repairs – take advantage of times when something breaks or needs repair to implement retrofit measures.
- Help navigate and simplify policy and funding challenges – provide user-friendly tools that help managers efficiently navigate policy requirements and funding sources.
- Facilitate surveys and data collection – better data leads to better retrofit outcomes.
- Help engage and educate residents – property managers need help with engaging, educating and getting buy-in from residents for retrofits.
- Fill gaps in net carbon zero requirements – support property managers with taking action to address emerging issue areas like biodiversity and green spaces.
- Enable pilot projects – experimenting with smaller-scale projects will prove an effective way to learn about and improve the approach to retrofits.
- Get funding – take full advantage of local, state and tribal government funding opportunities and rebates.
The study also assessed the three retrofit approaches: deep renovations or whole-building retrofits; deep renovations via staged or step-by-step retrofits; and one-off and serial retrofits. It concludes that incorporating each of the above will be needed. Deep retrofits are often higher quality and more likely to avoid issues that can impact more incremental approaches.
Climate change initiatives offer an opportunity to support jobs, strengthen America’s working communities, protect public health, and advance the environmental justice agenda. The report also highlights the vital role that public housing plays in catalyzing the market for retrofits and energy efficiency measures. With close to 140 million multifamily and single-family housing units, the sector has the potential to harness innovation and economies of scale that benefit all. Adopting technology can help scope, manage, measure, and better report on retrofit projects. Plentific is planning to work with clients across the U.S., UK and Germany at every stage of the process, from procuring funding to project consultation to implementation, measurement and reporting.
Cem Savas, CEO and co-founder of Plentific, comments: “The research from our experts offers valuable guidance and points to a tremendous opportunity. Future-proofing our buildings will address the most pressing environmental, social and economic issues facing society today.”