Study: LIHTC Sites Project Savings for Energy-Efficient Apartments

Study: LIHTC Sites Project Savings for Energy-Efficient Apartments

According to a Housing Virginia Tech housing study, a year-long study conducted by Virginia Tech’s Center for Housing Research, apartments built to higher energy-efficiency standards, including third-party testing and inspection, outperform new standard construction housing by more than 40 percent with respect to energy consumption. The study demonstrates the impacts of energy-efficient construction requirements in affordable rental housing.

The study is the first of its kind in Virginia and one of the first in the nation to verify actual electricity usage in apartments built to meet high-level efficiency standards. One key finding of the study is that construction standards of this type have a significant impact on the affordability of apartments for lower income families and seniors. The impact is greater as incomes are lower. For example, at 30 percent of median income, the average tenant will see his ability to afford housing increase by nearly 10 percent. In Virginia, 30 percent of area median income is an income of $23,250 per year for a family of four.

The target communities are affordable rental housing developed through the Virginia Housing Development Authority’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. The study included senior housing and family housing. It also looked at the differences between new construction, rehabilitated housing, and adaptive re-use.             

Beginning in 2007, VHDA implemented a set of incentives in the LIHTC program that encouraged developers and builders to use a recognized third-party standard in design and construction in order to reduce long-term energy usage. The incentive required the use of rigorous standards, third-party testing, and inspection from EarthCraft Virginia and LEED. Virginia was one of the first states to provide these types of incentives in the LIHTC program and has been a national leader in this regard. This study confirms that these policies are achieving their intended goals.