SmartRegs : Why It Should Pass

Via on Jul 6, 2010

Originally written and published by Shad Murib at New Era News. To read the entire article, click this link.

The long saga of SmartRegs continues, with Boulder’s City Council set to parse and discuss the policy — one which would give landlords the opportunity to make their rental properties more energy efficient through a proposed set of upgrades to be determined by a 100 point scale — Tuesday evening.

New Era News has done extensive coverage of this policy, as young people are progressively more open to minimizing human’s environmental footprint. The Daily Camera published an article today about the pending discussion and approval of SmartRegs later this year. They talked to Sheila Horton, president of the Boulder Area Rental Housing Association and opponent of the bill in its current form.

She is advocating for extending the time period when the upgrades would occur from within two lease cycles to having a three year ‘voluntary compliance’ period before the upgrades begin.

“We think it will provide the time we need to conduct major numbers of case studies,” Horton said. “We anticipate there will be nice incentives … for those first three years.”

She said having time to tweak the rules, and to gather data on how much of a difference the efficiencies are making, will provide a stepping stone for other cities considering such regulations.

“We need to do this program right,” she said.

Renters and landlords both have concerns about the policy, from increased rent for tenants to being able to afford the upgrades for landlords. There are legitimate concerns on both sides of the aisle.

However, what worries me about a voluntary compliance period (that precedes an assessment on if the upgrades are making a difference) is that we will not get the full scope of what the upgrades mean for the city by not having a full-throttled go at actually doing this. While, yes, there are potential incentives for landlords to comply with upgrading their properties in the three year voluntary period — the previous incentives have not made a huge difference in them upgrading on their own accord. Of those incentives, just a few are:

  1. A more attractive property
  2. Lower energy bills (a huge incentive for a tenant like me when choosing a rental)
  3. The impression tenants get when they see a landlord has taken care of their property and the environment surrounding it.

Why would we base the effectiveness of the upgrades through case studies that will not necessarily be based upon the full spectrum of housing units in Boulder — from rundown, ill maintained units to well-kempt, modern units? We can already base the effectiveness of the upgrades on the many (but not enough) landlords who have chosen to improve their units in recent years. We don’t need three years to research, as the research has already been done.

Many landlords in Boulder have issues finding the money to pay for these upgrades, as when they bought these properties and began leasing them, it wasn’t stipulated that they would be forced to upgrade them to what many think is an abritrary standard. And with a growing amount of students being forced to live outside of Boulder already, what does higher rent entail for renting properties?

However, there is an issue larger than us as renters and landlords to tackle, and that is the growing amount of concern over our environment and a lack of immediacy in terms of tackling climate change. Worldwide, consumption is growing, land is being taken over in the name of harvesting energy in often intrusive and destructive ways.

To read the rest of the article, head on over to New Era News.

About News

Andrew Whitehead is a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in Environmental Studies. He grew up in the grand country of Ireland, which is probably where he began to develop his exquisite beer palate. After moving to Wayne, Pennsylvania, Andrew became seriously passionate about the environment and strives to spread his awareness with anyone willing to listen. In his free time he loves to play hockey and soccer as well as go hiking. All that know him well fear his obsession with goats will land him a staring role on the well-known American TV show “Hoarders”.

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