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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project

Identifying Key Development Regions for Rooftop Solar on Multifamily Housing Complexes in the United States

solar panels on house roof

Group Members: Cameron (Cam) Audras, Grace Bianchi, Virginia Pan, Naomi Raal, Julia Bickford

Faculty Advisors: Eric Masanet

Client: Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Capital




The residential energy sector accounts for 20% of U.S. carbon emissions contributing to global climate change. Solar on multifamily housing is an overlooked opportunity that can lower emissions and provide equity benefits in the form of reduced energy costs for disadvantaged groups historically excluded in the transition to renewable energy. In collaboration with Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Capital, this project will identify metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the United States that are favorable for solar energy installation on multifamily housing complexes. The group will accomplish this by researching net energy metering policies, solar irradiance levels, landlord policies, energy demand, demographic trends, and real estate market data. Data from these five criteria categories will be used to calculate metrics to be used in a formula that assigns a score for each criteria category. Categorical scores will be weighted to create a ranked list of recommended MSAs for ZNE to invest in. In addition, a GIS map with layers to visualize the data will supplement findings and highlight the ideal areas for ZNE to prioritize the acquisition of multifamily housing. This project will provide ZNE with useful, actionable information to inform future real estate purchases. The resulting public reproducible code deliverable that includes data analysis will provide ZNE and any interested real estate company with an effective method to reproduce the analysis as new data becomes available, accelerating the renewable energy transition.

Client Contact: Owen Barrett

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