Book Review: Multi Family Weatherization Resource Guide

Posted by Heather Larson on November 26, 2013
Book Review: Multi Family Weatherization Resource Guide

Multi Family Weatherization Resource Guide by the Association for Energy Affordability, Inc., 2012, New York is a tool for professionals working on the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) to apply their services to multifamily buildings. It provides details on technical topics and a broad policy context of how the national WAP has been implemented on the state and local level and relates to other low-income housing resources.

This resource guide squarely addresses the multitude of aspects in which the multifamily sector requires a unique approach from the low-income, single-family sector. The author demonstrates their intricate understanding of these differences by addressing detailed issues such as whole building versus in-unit measures and analysis, multi-tenant income eligibility verification, diverse billing and metering configurations, attribution of measures savings analysis (i.e. SIR calculations) between WAP and other multifamily programs, and interpretation of program requirements regarding tenant versus property owner benefit and investment. The book details procedures of analyzing multistory building enclosures, central mechanical and ventilation systems, common area lighting, elevators, and infiltration testing for exterior and between unit air leakage, which is a more complex and costly evaluation than in a single-family home.

While this guide is very specific to the WAP’s application to multifamily housing, much of the technical information also provides a foundation for multifamily building energy auditing and analysis in other contexts. It would prove handy as a study resource to entities pursuing the BPI Multifamily Building Analyst certification.

As a national publication, some of the information on procedures for auditing, construction process, software analysis, and specialty trades would need to be modified for direct application on a local level where climatic, building stock, technical solutions, and program contexts vary. Given that the book is national in its scope, it does however do a good job of referencing the commonalities within the sector where consistency in protocols have been established on a regional or national basis.

The timing in release of this publication is aligned with the concurrent focus of resources toward the multifamily existing building sector as many entities have started to acknowledge the untapped energy efficiency potential in this market. This untapped potential, and suggestions for accessing it, are described in sources such as the recent ACEEE Multifamily Energy Savings project, the California Multifamily Home Energy Retrofit Coordinating Committee’s Program Design Recommendations, and exemplified DOE’s investment in developing multifamily program resources, including the Standard Workforce Specifications.

In California, the WAP has not reached its full potential to serve the majority of the low-income population that resides in multifamily buildings. Overall, the publication does an excellent job at filling a gap in widespread industry insight regarding effective application of the WAP program to multifamily housing.

You can learn more about the Association for Energy Affordability, the publishers of the Multi Family Weatherization Resource Guide here.


Heather Larson is the program manager for Green Building in Alameda County at StopWaste.

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