As Denver housing prices rise, smart owners and managers of multifamily buildings are looking to energy efficiency to keep costs down while increasing real estate values. The Colorado chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council says it welcomes the recent wave of multifamily buildings that benchmark and invest in energy efficiency.

“If Denver’s multifamily buildings invested $109 million in improving energy efficiency, it would result in an estimated $415 million in energy savings over 10 years,” says Katrina Managan, senior adviser for the Denver City Energy Project in the Dept. of Environmental Health. “With energy efficiency, everyone benefits: building owners can pass along some of the savings to tenants, while remaining savings on gas and common area electric bills cut operating costs for the owner, resulting in an increase in building value.”

For example, Cornerstone Apartment Services recently enrolled six of the buildings it manages in the Denver City Energy Project’s Benchmarking Program. According to Cornerstone’s Chief Operating Officer Charlie Hogan, “The energy performance scores have helped us evaluate and show our clients how their building’s energy performance compares to similar vintage properties. This has resulted in making educated decisions around energy-efficient upgrades and capital projects.

“Cornerstone’s apartments are such a recognizable infrastructure and brand in Denver, they set the standard on energy efficiency for other multifamily market rate projects in the community,” adds Patti Mason, executive director, USGBC Colorado.

The Prado Condominium has also enrolled in the Denver City Energy Project Benchmarking Program. Prado’s new association business manager, Nickie Greco of Hammersmith Management, saw that the condominium’s energy bills were far too high based on her past experience. She used the ENERGY STAR score to verify that and found the Prado scoring low in energy performance compared to its peers.

“We’re now on a path to cut the Prado energy bill significantly with smart energy efficiency improvements that will pay back quickly for owners in energy savings,” Greco says. “We’ve already upgraded some lighting, and we have a recommissioning project and upgrades to the cooling tower underway. More projects are in the works.”

Metro West Housing Solutions recently enrolled the five buildings it manages in Denver in the city’s benchmarking program. “Energy efficiency helps us cut operating costs so we can limit rent for tenants while improving on-site resident services such as health services, child care, and economic self-sufficiency training,” says Ryan McCaw of Metro West Housing Solutions. “Energy savings also free up funds to undertake critical capital improvements, enabling us to continue to operate buildings at a high quality level for low- and moderate-income households for the long-term.”

“The new level of attention these leading multifamily buildings are paying to energy efficiency through their voluntary participation in the Denver City Energy Project (DCEP) points to a new trend that multifamily properties are establishing towards increased investment in energy efficiency,” Mason says. “This positive effort and investment will benefit Denver’s triple bottom line for decades to come.”