Deep Retrofits for Multifamily: Experiences in Scaling to Zero Energy: Preprint

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Zero net energy (ZNE) buildings are needed to reverse the growing trend of increasing energy consumption. But to make dramatic changes, existing buildings must be renovated at scale. In addition, the building stock must be electrified so that its energy needs could be met by renewable generation. Such aggressive goals often mean very high custom design and capital construction costs. Suitable options for comprehensive envelope retrofits can be too expensive to be practical, and electrification requires upgrades to building-level electrical infrastructure. This paper is a case study of eight projects—primarily multifamily residential—that strived for zero-energy, all-electric retrofits. The design teams were challenged to create solutions that could be replicated at scale, showing decreasing costs with broader adoption. Key technologies considered in designing cost-effective, scalable solutions include industrialized prefabricated retrofit components, modular HVAC solutions, and innovative domestic hot water systems. We trace the progress toward the goals set and examine the choices made by the teams as they encountered technical, logistical, and cost barriers. We also discuss financial challenges for multifamily retrofits, provide guidance for incentives, and examine procurement processes for design services and technologies.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2020
Event2020 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings -
Duration: 17 Aug 202021 Aug 2020


Conference2020 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5500-77410


  • existing buildings
  • multifamily
  • renovation
  • retrofit


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