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Low-rise multifamily code compliance. Can we do better for people and programs?

Compliance with building energy codes is key to ensure home and business owners benefit from the intended energy savings. If we don’t use effective methods to understand energy code compliance, we can’t establish accurate baselines for energy efficiency programs or understand what energy savings are left on the table. Compliance insight will equip program managers to make the case for compliance improvement and enhancement programs. This is especially important for low-rise multifamily buildings.

Slipstream was a member of the Ecotope team that undertook a four-state assessment of energy code compliance in low-rise multifamily buildings for the Department of Energy. Low-rise multifamily buildings straddle the code for single-family homes and commercial buildings, which complicates code compliance. Our assessment provides insights on how the energy code gets interpreted and applied in low-rise multifamily buildings. This insight into actual practice will inform program design for compliance programs. Better code compliance benefits multifamily building owners, designers, contractors, code officials, and building occupants. And program managers benefit from additional program savings toward their goals.

The project team conducted energy characteristic audits in 100 low-rise multifamily buildings in Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, and Illinois. We also evaluated the air tightness of low-rise multifamily buildings. The team collected information from building owners, developers, architects, and contractors on their familiarity with building energy codes for this market segment.

In addition to the final report, please visit the DOE code field studies website for study data and other documents.