July 2023

Bob Simpson, President, Multifamily Impact Council



This month, I let our members know we're nearing completion on version 1.1 of the Multifamily Impact Framework™. More than 200 organizations have downloaded the Framework, and many people are providing feedback to help us build off the Framework's first iteration. 


If you've accessed the Framework but still need to give us your feedback, you can go ahead and do so here


We'll update the Framework annually, but the basic principles and reporting guidelines will remain essentially unchanged. So, your input on version 1.1 is critical. 


I also want to recognize our newest members of the Multifamily Impact Council: Bloom Here, Inc., Catalyst Housing Group, MRK Partners, and the National Housing Conference. We greatly appreciate their support and leadership! 


We are always looking to expand our membership and add new perspectives to our team. If you are interested in joining the Council, send us an email. We've adjusted our annual membership fees to broaden our membership base further, and we would love to share more information with you. 


The impact principle that we are focusing on for this month's newsletter is Climate and Resilience. Given the extreme heat our country has experienced this month, I would almost say that it is timely. Unfortunately, we are now experiencing these severe weather events every month and are bearing witness to the tangible effects of climate change in real-time. 


Last week, one of our MIC Advisory Board Members, the Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF), launched their Carbon Roadmap. This tool helps multifamily portfolio owners test and build strategies for reducing their property's carbon emissions. 


Lauren Westmoreland, SAHF's Vice President, Energy & Sustainability, walks us through the Roadmap in the interview below. The tool holds great promise to support organizations seeking to reduce carbon emissions and operating expenses, and we appreciate SAHF's leadership in this area. 


Thanks for reading, 

Bob Simpson 


Multifamily Impact Council 

Q&A with Lauren Westmoreland, SAHF Vice President, Energy & Sustainability

Lauren Westmoreland leads the Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future's environmental initiatives, including the Bringing Sustainability Home (BSH), a cross-cutting energy and health initiative to ensure that low-income residents and communities have equal access to critical environmental and health benefits. In addition to BSH, Westmoreland is building upon the success of the Big Reach to support SAHF members in identifying scalable solutions for a low-carbon future that benefits low-income residents and communities and mitigates the impact of climate change.

Lauren Westmoreland, SAHF Vice President, Energy & Sustainability

What is the Carbon Portfolio Roadmap?

SAHF’s Portfolio Carbon Roadmap is a free tool that allows the user to create plans for lower carbon emissions in multifamily rental housing. The Roadmap uses SAHF’s Calculator tool to help estimate your portfolio-wide emissions. Then the Roadmap lets you set a target and begin to create different scenarios for your portfolio. For each scenario you run, the Roadmap estimates carbon savings, energy savings, and housing units impacted.

You can start to answer questions like: What if you installed solar to this segment of your portfolio? What if you pursued deep energy efficiency retrofits for another segment? How much energy and carbon would you save? Will you hit your target?

Who is the Roadmap for, and what can it help them do?

If you’re in the multifamily space, this is the tool for you. It’s designed to guide a multifamily owner through the process and has appropriate assumptions for decarbonization and energy efficiency strategies for multifamily properties. It’ll allow owners to prioritize – moving from being overwhelmed to acting.


In particular, this tool is very useful for users aiming to make big commitments, like the DOE Better Climate Challenge, where participants voluntarily commit to 50% carbon emissions and 20% energy savings. This helps you chart a path. For users facing building performance standards at the state or local level, this tool can help with that planning.


If you have an energy manager, energy analyst, or someone dedicated to sustainability on staff, this person can pick up and use the tool. If you don’t have anyone on staff, any third-party energy consultant, especially those with energy benchmarking experience, can help you. Bright Power, an energy consultant that also runs EnergyScoreCards, and VEIC, another expert energy consultant, both supported development of the tool.

What's the idea behind the Roadmap?

The Roadmap builds upon SAHF’s broad and deep understanding of energy and sustainability, as our members have been pursuing efforts for over a decade. The success of the Big Reach, our initiative to reduce water and energy consumption amongst SAHF member portfolios, produced 29% energy and 24% water savings. Not only did we reach our water and energy goals, but we were also able to track approximately 40% in carbon savings throughout the initiative. This gave us the confidence that striving for reduced carbon emissions is attainable within the affordable housing sector. 


Through the efforts of the Big Reach project, we realized that a couple of key provisions really led to the great success our members achieved. First, a portfolio-wide commitment was necessary to get all members on board and growing in the same direction. Second, there was no silver bullet – it took a suite of strategies that were implemented across the portfolio.


While there are a lot of successes and resources developed through the Big Reach and by other energy efficiency programs, carbon emissions reduction and planning are different and require an updated set of tools. Some great tools are emerging, but we weren’t seeing any that worked for portfolio planning. SAHF was fortunate to have financial support from Wells Fargo to be addressing that need by developing the Calculator and the Roadmap!

How can someone get the Roadmap?

The Roadmap is available on SAHF’s website. SAHF’s Carbon Portfolio tools – the Roadmap and the Calculator – can be found under our Environmental Sustainability page. SAHF plans to release accompanying resources, such as tutorial videos, examples, and detailed instructions to make using the Roadmap simpler.


What are your plans for the Roadmap’s future? Or, what’s next for SAHF’s efforts on energy efficiency and sustainability?


We’ve developed the first version of the Roadmap to meet the needs of affordable housing organizations today, knowing that the world is quickly evolving. While we’ve piloted the Roadmap with eight affordable housing organizations, we’re looking forward to getting broader feedback from the sector. That feedback will inform where the tool goes from here and what additional technical resources are needed as we begin our decarbonization journey. In our broader sustainability work, we will also be developing case studies and other resources that draw on our members' experience implementing lower carbon strategies in ways that keep residents at the center of the work.

How do energy efficiency and sustainability connect with affordable housing?

We’re seeing more climate disruptions, from heat waves and record-breaking temperatures to widespread air quality issues due to wildfires and climate disasters. The wide range of sustainability efforts conducted by the affordable housing industry can create homes that are more resistant to these climate disruptions, allowing residents to stay safe, healthy, and thrive. Whether it’s ensuring a low energy bill, even when it’s hot outside, or ensuring good indoor air quality, even when the outdoor air quality is poor, these efforts provide measurable benefits to residents and can support better outcomes, from increasing resident wealth to improved physical and mental health.

In addition, sustainability is beneficial to property and portfolio owners. Lower energy usage and bills, especially as we’re seeing increased volatility in energy pricing, safeguard owners from unexpected costs. An aging natural gas infrastructure will require major investments, and the costs will likely be borne by customers. Electrification of equipment ensures that property owners are safeguarding themselves from these additional costs.


The affordable housing sector serves many communities that have been historically disinvested, especially when it comes to environmental issues. The Inflation Reduction Act funding represents a significant opportunity to provide benefits to affordable housing residents, especially those in communities that have been marginalized and neglected. By leading the way, the affordable housing industry can not only support equitable solutions for these communities but center resident voice and proactively ensure that policies and practices appropriately include and address the needs of the affordable housing sector.

Anything else you'd like to share about the Carbon Portfolio Roadmap?

We hope that housing providers will explore the Roadmap and tell us how it's working for them. We’d love to receive feedback!

Follow the Multifamily Impact Council on LinkedIn for organizational updates, industry news, and new member announcements.

Industry News and Updates

Submit your organization's news and announcements for inclusion in our monthly newsletter by emailing [email protected].

LinkedIn Share This Email
LinkedIn  Web