Sustainability & Resilience

All Green Buildings Great and Small


This study began through extensive conversations with members of CHPCs Green Building Committee, which includes practitioners in architecture, development, planning, finance, and engineering.

Committee members agreed that there are many good programs and talented practitioners with substantial technical expertise working to make greener and more sustainable housing stock a reality. There was general consensus that many owners of larger buildings (those over 50,000 sq. ft.) have access to existing programs, technical capacity and the financial wherewithal to undertake energy upgrades.

However, there was a shared concern among Committee members that owners of small to mid-size buildings (5-49 units) were failing to take advantage of many of the well intended energy efficiency programs, resulting in a limited number of energy retrofits being undertaken. As one committee member put it, the programs are there, but almost every program offered is not operating at capacity.

The question had to be why?

We conducted extensive interviews and site visits to better understand what programs are available to small to mid-size multi-family building owners and what barriers these owners face in tapping existing resources. We then followed up on these conversations with interviews with officials at Con Edison, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC) who provided feedback on our findings and offered us insight into their own priorities and perspectives. We reviewed the citys legislative initiatives and reviewed current literature to identify available programs in other jurisdictions.

CHPCs research identified numerous barriers the small to mid-size property owners face in greening their buildings:

  • These owners are often deterred from implementing energy retrofits by a lack of information, misaligned financial incentives, or insufficient capital.
  • The benefits of energy efficiency retrofits often remain unclear to owners of the small to mid-size buildings, who do not see the benefits of taking on the necessary time and expense of greening their buildings.
  • The public and private organizations that develop and promote energy policies are not coordinated with the government housing programs that work with building owners. Energy policy is siloed from housing policy, leaving small to mid-size building owners out in the cold.
  • This also means that most existing programs are not designed with the specific operational needs of small to mid-size rental buildings in mind.

To move this topic forward, we then worked with our committee to develop 10 practical and realistic recommendations to increase the participation by owners of small and mid-sized multi-family properties in programs that encourage energy efficiency.

Read more on 10 industry recommendations to improve the energy efficiency of NYC rental housing stock

Featured publications

Testimony and impact