November 21, 2014

Knowing Our Energy Usage Helps Reduce Our Energy Consumption

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Photo: electric meter

Last week, HUD Secretary Julián Castro issued an open letter to utility companies across the United States encouraging them to work with building owners to facilitate access to whole-building utility usage data.  This is a critical issue for owners and operators of multifamily housing, and particularly for the affordable housing community and HUD.

Each year, HUD spends almost $7 billion on utility costs for affordable housing units.  That nearly $7 billion supports utility payments to millions of households in public housing and private multifamily HUD-assisted housing to keep these homes safe and comfortable.

HUD is working with affordable housing developers to reduce energy costs, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and promote the use of renewable energy to preserve affordability.  The ability to measure and control energy consumption is directly linked to the availability of the energy usage data.  Making this data available in a comprehensive and usable format is the first step to being able to measure and reduce energy consumption, lowering costs for American families.

Access to utility data is a common problem for building owners, particularly when housing units are individually metered and/or billed.  Many utilities across the country have overcome this problem by implementing successful policies for transmission of whole-building energy consumption data, some even automating this process to make it as easy as possible for building owners to benchmark their buildings.  However, there are also many utilities that have not yet developed processes and policies for assisting building owners and operators in accessing this data.

Creating greater cooperation between utility companies and owners and operators of affordable housing units will save tenants money and reduce HUD’s utility costs.  By using tools such as the new 1-100 ENERGY STAR Score for Multifamily Housing and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, building owners will be able to make informed decisions on how to improve their building and portfolio-wide energy performance.  But they need whole building energy information to use these tools and take action.

The Department is committed to working with our partners in the federal government, non-governmental stakeholders, and utility companies to increase access to whole-building utility data and energy benchmarking.

Please read the attached Open Letter to Utility Companies from HUD Secretary Julián Castro.  If you are interested in more information on the work HUD is doing to reduce energy costs and preserve affordability, please email

Harriet Tregoning is the Director of the Office of Economic Resilience.

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