Qualifying Units in Multifamily Buildings – Version 2

EPA’s eligibility requirements for qualifying individual multi-family units under the ENERGY STAR New Homes program are as follows:

  • All units in multi-family buildings three-stories or less can qualify for ENERGY STAR.
  • Units in four- and five-story multi-family buildings may qualify for ENERGY STAR if: 1) The structure is permitted as residential by the local building department; and 2) each residential unit has its own heating, cooling, and hot water systems, separate from other units. The phrase, "permitted as residential structures," is intended to represent units that either fall within the scope of the residential building energy code or are permitted as having a residential use-group, even under conditions where the commercial building energy code applies.
  • Multi-family units that are located on top of commercial spaces (e.g., retail, restaurant, etc.) may be qualified as ENERGY STAR even if the structure is permitted as commercial, as long as: 1) the entire structure is five stories or less; and 2) each residential unit has its own heating, cooling, and hot water systems, separate from other units.

In response to questions from partners, EPA has clarified the phrase, "permitted as residential structures" in the second clause and now requires all units qualified under the second and third clause to have their own heating, cooling, and hot water systems, separate from other units.

EPA would also like to note that an immediate effort is underway to more clearly delineate the eligibility of and requirements for low-rise and high rise multi-family units to be qualified under the ENERGY STAR New Homes program. It is expected that these definitions will change to ensure a more consistent application of building construction and code definitions.

Specifications

ENERGY STAR specifications can be determined with either a performance path custom analysis or an EPA-approved Builder Option Package (BOP). When using the performance path, RESNET-approved HERS software must be used. Each unit can be modeled individually, or the unit with the highest percentage of exposed wall area can be used as a proxy for all other units if the other units have the same or less window-to-floor area ratio, and the same or more stringent energy features. Consult the Attached Housing Policy for further details.

Field Verification

The same field verification requirements required for single-family homes apply to multi-family buildings. This includes field inspecting and testing each individual unit, or using the RESNET Sampling Protocol. Consult the RESNET Exit ENERGY STAR web site for further details on field verification.

Labeling

Each unit in a multi-family building earns the ENERGY STAR label (e.g., the building does NOT receive just a single label).