Today, every retrofit is a custom job, involving significant time, complexity and cost. At the same time, nearly 50 million Americans are living at or below the federal poverty line, with many struggling to pay for their utilities versus other basic needs. While low-income families stand to benefit the most from high-performing buildings, they also face the greatest barriers in accessing them, spending up to 20% of their income on energy, compared to just 4% for the average US household.
REALIZE aims to catalyze the zero carbon residential revolution. Together, we’ll make better performing, safer, and more comfortable homes for all American families while spurring wealth and job creation in communities across the country, especially those that have been economically left behind.
REALIZE is combining demand aggregation, using a “zero over time” approach, and supply chain coordination to deploy high-quality, prefabricated mass-scale retrofit packages that are easy to install and are financed through utility cost savings. Our vision is a future where buildings are heated, cooled, and powered using renewable, non-greenhouse gas emitting resources and where historically disenfranchised communities are fully included in the benefits and can take part in the new workforce it will take to get there.
REALIZE is inspired by Energiesprong, an innovative model from the Netherlands. A public-private partnership, Energiesprong has implemented zero energy retrofits to the tune of almost 5,000 units over the past five years, with another 100,000 planned across Europe. WATCH VIDEO
Standards and Design Guidelines
Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) is a core partner of REALIZE and is focused on optimizing performance standards and establishing design guidelines for more industrialized approaches to implementing retrofit technologies. PHIUS has modeled energy efficiency opportunities on concept multifamily buildings to determine how to increase energy performance, improve construction processes, and reduce overall project costs. As demonstration projects are completed, PHIUS will provide formal design guides for industrialized, zero energy retrofit projects. LEARN MORE
Zero Over Time
REALIZE offers an innovative approach for multifamily portfolio owners to improve their existing building stock and set building portfolios on a financially viable path to achieve zero energy and zero carbon emissions. The zero-over-time approach provides a portfolio-wide roadmap for undertaking deep energy and water efficiency, electrification, renewable energy, and energy storage projects that are timed with major building life-cycle events, or triggers. LEARN MORE
Why It Matters
America’s 125 million residential units account for approximately 20% of the country’s total carbon emissions, but less than a tenth of a percent are operating at net zero energy, according to the Net Zero Energy Coalition’s 2017 inventory. Progress continues to be hindered in large part by the disaggregation of both supply and demand―today, every retrofit is a custom job, involving significant time, complexity and cost. At the same time, nearly 50 million Americans are living at or below the federal poverty line, with many struggling to pay for their utilities versus other basic needs. While low-income families stand to benefit the most from high-performing buildings, they also face the greatest barriers in accessing them, spending up to 20% of their income on energy, compared to just 4% for the average US household.
Who’s Involved and what are we doing?
RMI is working with leading partners and innovators on the supply and demand sides of multifamily home retrofits, including municipalities and government housing agencies, building owners and developers, manufacturers, and financiers.
Retrofit Package Demonstrations
Supported by awards from the US Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission, REALIZE is launching several pilots to demonstrate Energiesprong like retrofit packages. These projects seek to test the efficacy of solutions while organizing the supply chain to develop more integrated retrofit systems for deployment across the multifamily housing market.
Supported by a California Energy Commission award, REALIZE will organize the market in California to provide zero-net-energy retrofits at scale for disadvantaged communities across the state. The team will look to streamline everything from financing, to permitting, to the installation process for sets of turnkey net-zero retrofit solutions.
Robot is welding metal part in automotive industrialManufacturers Consortium
RetrofitNY, an Energiesprong program in the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and REALIZE are collaborating to work with manufacturers to accelerate the development of a robust supply chain for net-zero retrofit packages. The team is especially focused on bundled solutions consisting of components such as envelope panelization systems and modular, prefabricated, integrated mechanical system units.Inclusive Economy
REALIZE is partnering with the Emerald Cities Collaborative and local entities to recruit and train people of color and women contractors, connecting them to project opportunities and readying them for taking on bigger and more complex projects.
The 2019 Boston Contractor Academy begins October 24.LEARN MORE
Department of Energy
California Energy Commission
Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance
PROJECT PARTNERS AND COLLABORATORS
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
Net Zero Energy Coalition
Passive House Institute US
Prospect Silicon Valley
Association for Energy Affordability
University of California Davis
California Housing Partnership Corporation
San Francisco Department of Environment
The Levy Partnership
David Baker Architects
Stone Energy Associates
Natural Resources Canada
Emerald Cities Collaborative
REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS
A Market AssessmentLEARN MOREZero Over Time Brochure
REALIZE: Catalyzing a Zero-Carbon Residential RevolutionLEARN MOREEnergiesprong Monitoring and Performance Webinar
Factory Zero tells us more about their monitoring systems and performance monitoring to manage maintenance needs, tenant behavior, and to ensure savings in retrofit buildings.LEARN MOREEnergiesprong Dutch Field Trip Webinar
REALIZE observations from an August 2018 field trip to Energiesprong projects in the NetherlandsLEARN MOREMEP Insight Brief
Sizing the market for integrated, all-electric mechanical systems, 2018LEARN MOREBlog
Social Equity, Affordable Housing, and the Net-Zero Energy Opportunity, 2018LEARN MORESummary
REALIZE New York Supply-Side Convening—2016LEARN MORESummary
REALIZE San Francisco Demand-Side Convening—2017LEARN MOREFeasibility Study
San Francisco Techno Economic StudyLEARN MOREFeasibility Resource
Techno Economic Study: How To GuideLEARN MOREColorful San Francisco building tops with Bay on a Sunny day. Oblique view with copy space.Strategy
San Francisco Bay Area Strategy RecommendationsLEARN MOREBlog
Getting to Net-Zero Carbon in Multifamily Homes, 2016LEARN MOREVideo
Net-Zero Housing: The Energiesprong ModelLEARN MOREArticle
Energiesprong Scaling in Europe—the Guardian