Concerned that there wasn’t a nationally recognized metric available for multifamily owners to understand the energy performance in their properties, Fannie Mae teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) three years ago to find a solution.

On Sept. 16, the EPA will make the Energy Star score for multifamily available for industry use.

Fannie Mae did a comprehensive survey of more than 1,000 multifamily properties in 2012 to better understand energy and water performance and metrics. The EPA then used the survey data to create its Energy Star score for multifamily.

Fannie’s Multifamily Energy and Water Market Research Survey found that the least efficient property could spend $165,000 or more in annual energy costs compared with a similar property that’s more efficient. It also found that when multifamily owners paid for all energy costs, the median annual energy use was 26 percent higher then when renters paid for their own utilities.

Affordable housing properties also were found to use 28 percent less energy per unit than market-rate properties.

“The bottom line is properties are wasting significant amounts of money on energy and water costs,” says Chrissa Pagitsas, director of Fannie Mae’s Multifamily Green Initiative.

She says the Energy Star score will help owners identify its leaders and laggards in their portfolios and make changes to reduce their energy and water costs and to increase the value of their properties.

The 1-100 Energy Star score will allow multifamily owners of properties with more than 20 units to quantify their energy and water performance. The score takes into account the energy use across fuel types, weather, building characteristics, and business activity, and provides the property’s percentile ranking compared with similar multifamily communities. A property with a 25 performs 25 percent better than similar properties, and a property with a 75 performs 75 percent better than similar properties.

If a property receives a 75 or higher, it is eligible for Energy Star certification.