If you’ve been in Boulder for a little while (and even if you haven’t), you’ve probably heard about how our little city sets the example when it comes to environmental and energy policies. Many point to the fact that Boulder was the first city in the US to pass a Carbon Tax. Pretty cool, huh?
Another example is that even when our country wasn’t willing to sign the international Kyoto Protocol for limiting greenhouse gas emissions, the little-city-that-could of Boulder stood up for our future and pledged, as a city, to meet Kyoto standards. Even cooler, huh?
But wait. There’s something wrong with that last example. Boulder is in no way on track to meet Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, Boulder’s energy usage is significantly higher, per capita, than the average. It turns out Boulder isn’t such a great example on everything green, after all.
When most people in Boulder hear that, they think “Well, let’s do something about that, eh?” But, here’s the problem: About 57% of the homes in Boulder are rental units. These units are some of the most energy inefficient properties you could think of and they cause our city-wide energy usage to skyrocket. They rarely get upgraded and stay horribly inefficient because there’s no incentive for the owner to make improvements since they don’t pay the energy bills.
And before you start blaming it all on spoiled, careless students, remember that over two-thirds of these units are NOT rented by students.
Tonight, Boulder City Council will finally hear a policy that would address this problem and put us back on track to meet our Kyoto Protocol standards. The policy, SmartRegs, will create basic minimum standards for energy efficiency in rental units, such as sealing gaps in windows, installing programmable thermostats, low-flow shower heads and insulation.
If passed, Boulder would be the first city in the country to address the split-incentive of energy usage in rental units. This policy has been carefully studied and developed for a while now and it will be phased in over a number of years. There will even be protections and programs put in place to financially assist landlords in meeting the minimum standards.
If you live in Boulder, click here to edit and send a pre-written letter to City Council members before tonight’s hearing and vote. Even better, join us at the City Council chambers at 8pm tonight to show your support. You can make a statement during public hearing or just join the crowd as a supporter.
We need your help to get this passed. The landlord’s association and the major property managers like Four Star Realty have come out against the policy and pledged to do everything they can to defeat it. Let’s show them that regular citizens can one up them tonight.
Boulder’s City Council Meeting
May 18th, 8 p.m
City Council Chambers