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The Shift to Using More Electricity Will Change How Affordable Housing Is Built

by Kimberely Vermeer and Walker Wells

A Shift from Energy Efficiency to Carbon Reduction

Electrification: Changing How We Design and Build

Electrification and Equity

Moving Forward with Electrification

  1. Get tuned in to funding opportunities. 2023 will be a big year for programs to start rolling out. Get on the mailing lists for your state energy office and the major policy organizations that are tracking program implementation, such as the National Housing Trust and the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy.
  2. Build the right design team. Electrification requires a higher level of expertise in system requirements and in understanding design implications. Having an experienced team, or design team members who are willing to dig into the details to create the best solution, is essential.
  3. Use an integrated design process to daylight key issues and opportunities early. As described earlier, electrification forces multiple changes to established design assumptions. Identifying these needs early helps to ensure that the right systems are selected and effectively integrated into the overall design. (Guidance on the integrated design process is provided in Chapter 2 of the Blueprint for Greening Affordable Housing.)
  4. Take advantage of financial and economic benefits. Electrification requires reconsideration of costs on common versus tenant meters and a fresh look at utility allowances. Energy savings from new technology may not be reflected in the standard utility allowances and analysis may show that owners are better off keeping costs on the common meters, while staying within the regulated rent and income thresholds.
  5. Just get started! Let the project be the teacher and start incorporating electrification strategies, using available pilots and incentive programs. Learn by doing: Install some equipment in one or two properties, learn what it takes to plan and implement, and see how it works. You’ll be better prepared to move quickly when the big money starts to flow.
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A changing climate means a changing society. The Island Press Urban Resilience Project (URP) is committed to a greener, fairer future.