ULI Report finds that energy efficiency investment is key to addressing housing affordability in KC


June 3, 2022– Given the climate need and the growing global mandate for zero carbon buildings, how can we accelerate market transformation towards a net zero built environment? A new report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) explores the impact of an Energy Efficiency Investment Fund (EEIF), similar in concept to a green bank, and makes recommendations for launching such a fund in the Kansas City metropolitan area.


With support from ULI’s Net Zero Imperative, a global initiative to decarbonize the built environment, ULI Kansas City and Building Energy Exchange Kansas City recently brought together public and private sector leaders and a panel of nationally recognized experts in finance, development, energy infrastructure and consulting to better understand the challenges for the local housing market. Over the course of two and a half days, the 12 panelists met with more than 30 stakeholders and developed a roadmap for establishing and operating the fund. The report Creating Energy Efficiency Financing Tools for Multifamily Housing in the Kansas City Region outlines the work of this technical assistance panel (TAP) and provides recommendations on the governance structure, metrics for evaluating projects, and a description of potential lending tools.


Similar to energy efficiency financing tools being deployed across the country, this fund has the potential to unlock a growing market for energy efficiency retrofits and new housing development for the Kansas City region,” said Kerry O’Neill, CEO of Inclusive Prosperity Capital, who served on the panel.


While broadly a policy study, the geographic scope of this study area was identified as Kansas City, Missouri, and Overland Park, Kansas, to better understand how such a fund might function in communities on both sides of the state line, accounting for different state governments, access to capital, and existing financing tools. The panel recommended that the fund initially focus on the single jurisdiction of Kansas City, Missouri, with the opportunity to grow to a regional scale once established. The City plans to work in partnership with BE-Ex KC to conduct deeper analysis for establishing the EEIF as well as solicit federal dollars.

Although the goal is to decarbonize all building types, the TAP panel looked specifically at the multifamily housing sector, focusing on buildings of three or more stories, knowing that this building type has great potential for significant impact across the region and, at the same time, advancing equitable practices for residents who have been historically excluded. Multifamily housing is an area of the market that often under-performs with significant energy waste, high utility bills, and poor indoor air quality.


According to Emmet Pierson, President and CEO of Community Builders of Kansas City, this is especially true for apartment buildings that serve low-to-moderate-income residents in Kansas City, Missouri. “A key barrier for energy-efficiency improvements is lending tools that can be applied to improve existing affordable apartments,” said Pierson. “By reducing carbon in multifamily buildings through the incorporation of energy efficiency improvements, we can improve resident health and reduce their utility burdens.”


Read the full report here. More information on ULI’s Net Zero Imperative is available here.

For more information, contact Ashley Sadowski, Executive Director of BE-Ex KC, asadowski@be-exkc.org or Joy Crimmins, Executive Director of ULI Kansas City, joy.crimmins@uli.org.



About the Urban Land Institute

The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to shape the future of the built environment for transformative impact in communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 45,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. For more information on ULI, please visit uli.org or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.


About Building Energy Exchange Kansas City

Building Energy Exchange KC (BE-Ex KC) is an initiative of Climate Action KC. BE-Ex KC works in coordination with the Kansas City Regional Climate Action Plan’s effort to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emission for all buildings by 2040. BE-Ex KC’s programs prioritize residents currently experiencing high utility burdens and poor indoor air quality through targeted carbon reduction, robust community input, and the removal of barriers that limit energy efficiency access. For more information, please visit be-exkc.org or follow us on LinkedIn.