Until recently, multifamily residential projects seeking ENERGY STAR certification were split into two camps depending on the height of the buildings: ENERGY STAR Certified Homes (3 stories or fewer) or ENERGY STAR Multifamily High Rise Program (4 stories and above). Each program had its own certification process and modeling software, which was not always the best fit for the project.
Recognizing these challenges, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a new Multifamily New Construction (MFNC) program that brings all types of multifamily buildings under one roof (pun most certainly intended).
Regardless of which program you’re more familiar with, this new MFNC program comes with a learning curve to get through and we are here to summarize what you need to know on your way to certification.
The Multifamily New Construction program is made up of three paths to compliance, along with a set of mandatory checklists. Two are performance based and the other prescriptive.
Regardless of the path chosen, every project will need to comply with a set of mandatory requirements found in a series of checklists that are filled out by various members of the Project Team.
|Mandatory Requirement||Description||Responsible Party|
|MFNC HVAC Design Report||Credentialed HVAC System Designer fills out this report to demonstrate proper heating and cooling loads, equipment sizing & specs and duct design||HVAC System Designer|
|MFNC Rater Design Review Checklist||Rater checks items like fenestration, insulation and reviews HVAC Design Report||Rater (Southern Energy Management)|
|MFNC Rater Field Checklist||Rater fills out at Rough and Final inspections, items related to thermal/air barriers, HVAC system, lighting, mechanical ventilation, etc.||Rater (Southern Energy Management)|
|MFNC HVAC Functional Testing Checklist||Credentialed HVAC Functional Testing Agent checks items like refrigerant charge and HVAC fan airflow when commissioning HVAC systems||Functional Testing Agent (e.g. HVAC subcontractor)|
|MFNC Water Management System Requirements||The Builder agrees to a set of water-related prescriptive measures related to site & foundation, wall/roof assembly and building materials||Builder or Developer|
A set of prescriptive measures for units and common spaces, based on the Multifamily Reference Design, must be followed to certify through this path.
The ERI Path is a hybrid of performance and prescriptive paths. Energy modeling determines unit-by-unit energy savings (performance) based on the ERI target for residential units, while the common spaces have required (prescriptive) measures related to lighting fixtures and power density. For those familiar with ENERGY STAR Certified Homes, this pathway has the closest resemblance to Version 3.0.
The other performance path is based on a American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) whole-building energy model that determines the energy cost savings compared to an ASHRAE 90.1 baseline energy model. This path more closely resembles the Multifamily High Rise Program.
A new, optional, standard allows the Rater to grade the HVAC system installation, potentially improving the ERI scores by as much as 6 points (depending on climate zone and performance improvement).
A domestic hot water section has been added to the Rater Field Checklist, e.g. pipe insulation (R3 or above) is now required in certain cases.
ERI Path includes required lighting measures that apply specifically to common spaces related to occupancy sensors and lighting power density (ASHRAE 90.1 2007).
ENERGY STAR appliances are required for the Prescriptive Path in all units, while the ERI Path requires ENERGY STAR appliances in common spaces.
Buildings over 50,000 square feet are required to have a whole-building energy data acquisition strategy. Strategies can include:
Combining the ENERGY STAR MFNC program with a green building program may be another project consideration, along with whether to get extra points for a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, or perhaps going for some green lending incentives. Here’s a brief breakdown of how ENERGY STAR MFNC can fit into other green building programs:
Certifying a project to ENERGY STAR MFNC is recognized as an Alternative Bronze Path (MFNC v1) or Alternative Silver Path (MFNC v1.1), providing the needed points to pass Chapter 7 (Energy Efficiency).
Points can be awarded for ENERGY STAR certification for projects aiming for Certified Level, and is a requirement for Gold and Platinum Levels.
ENERGY STAR MFNC is a mandatory requirement in Chapter 5 (Operating Energy) for new construction projects.
LEED for Homes has a prerequisite to meet the requirements of ENERGY STAR for Homes Version 3 (equivalent to MFNC). LEED Multifamily Midrise also recognizes MFNC as equivalent to improvements beyond ASHRAE 90.1-2010, depending on the version used.
If you’d like help figuring out exactly what the ENERGY STAR Multifamily New Construction program roll-out means for your project or still have questions, our team is ready to support. Click the get started button below and fill out a form, or reach out to Laurie Colwander at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re happy to help find the program that’s right for you!