The city of Boulder is currently considering implementing a rental property policy referred to as SmartRegs. If passed, SmartRegs would require owners of rental properties to upgrade their units to meet basic levels of energy efficiency, if the property doesn’t already meet the minimum standards.
As a resident of Boulder, I believe the city’s adoption of this sensible policy is of great importance.
To put SmartRegs in context, the city of Boulder, in 2002, passed a Kyoto resolution, which calls on Boulder to reduce community emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHG) to the Kyoto Protocol target of 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
SmartRegs is an important piece in Boulder’s ongoing push to have a responsible energy policy. Recent research suggests the city must aggressively increase energy efficiency of Boulder properties by 30 percent to 50 percent if it is to meet the Kyoto target.
There are two main reasons why the city is rightly concerned with rental properties within the context of reduction of GHG emmisions.
First, rental properties make up 57 percent of Boulder’s residential properties and so their influence on Boulder’s GHG levels is significant. Secondly, there is no market incentive for owners or renters of such properties to implement energy efficiency upgrades.
Owners of rental properties, in most cases, do not pay the utility bills for their units, so they have no financial motivation to make upgrades to their properties. Similarly, renters, who lack any real obligation to the condition and value of the units they rent would be hard pressed to find good reason to finance any upgrades or renovation to them.
Given the sheer number of rentals in Boulder and the lack of incentives to solving the problem, it’s crucial the city adopt SmartRegs if it is to lead the nation in meeting the Kyoto Protocol goals.