Tenant Utility Tracking in Multifamily Residential Buildings

by ‐ Tags: property management, green living

For a multifamily apartment building, creating an accurate benchmark of utility consumption can be hampered by inability to access data from tenant-paid spaces.  In order to track and analyze the way that a building is using water and energy, a property owner or manager must reach out to tenants, requesting usage histories for the spaces they occupy.

Whole-building electricity usage (kWh/sf) involves both common-area usage (green) and tenant-usage.  Note how the vast majority of usage comes from tenant-spaces, and that the least-efficient tenant here (yellow) uses more than triple the electricity as the most efficient (dark blue).

The most common ways to work around the problem of tenant-paid utilities are to either ask tenants for a record of their recent utility use (this can be recorded from saved bills and 12 months is typically enough history), or to obtain data releases from tenants, authorizing the building manager to access their utility data online.  Both methods enable building managers to calculate baseline energy and water use for their buildings.

There are a number of reasons why your tenants may not want to hand over their utility usage histories. If you’re a property owner or manager looking to track the utility consumption of your tenant-paid spaces, keep these concerns in mind to make the data-gathering process as easy and effective as possible.

Privacy

Confusion/Distrust

Lack of Incentive

Educate, Educate, Educate!

 

The more you can communicate with your tenants, and educate them about the importance of energy benchmarking, the better.  It is important to think of data collection and release-form gathering as a process, with a beginning, middle, and end. 

  1. Start your outreach efforts with a building-wide email or common area meeting to let your tenants know that you will be requesting their information.  Be sure to explain why you are interested in the data, and what you plan to do with it. 
  2. When distributing information requests or release forms, support your educational efforts with informational fliers that explain the process and reiterate your earlier message. 
  3. Provide follow-up after distributing requests, checking in with tenants to address concerns, and making yourself available to answer questions.

Want to learn more? Here are some quick tips on tracking tenant data.

 

 

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