Council to discuss rental codes May 18
Last Updated: 18:32 March 28, 2012
BOULDER - The city of Boulder's planning board pushed ahead a draft ordinance that would force local landlords to each make thousands of dollars of energy-efficient upgrades in order to receive a residential rental license from the city.
The planning board unanimously approved the draft ordinance 5-0, with members Elise Jones, Andrew Shoemaker, William Holicky, Mary Young and Tim Plass approving the measure. Two planning board members, Willa Johnson and Danica Powell, recused themselves from the vote, citing a conflict of interest because of involvement with rental properties.
The proposed measure will now go before city council for a scheduled public meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18, in the municipal building at 1777 Broadway.
Boulder officials are proposing the mandates as part of the city's Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse emissions. New construction in Boulder already must adhere to strict green building codes, but this is the city's first attempt to try and mandate energy efficiency in existing buildings.
Most local landlords oppose the proposals, saying that cost burden will be too great and rental costs will increase.
There are about 19,606 residential rental units within the city of Boulder.
While some of those units already meet the city's proposed green mandates, a majority of the units do not. In test cases funded by the city earlier this year, landlords spent anywhere from $675 to $3,200 per unit to meet the proposed energy-efficiency requirements.
In total, city officials estimate local landlords will have to spend a combined $17.7 million to upgrade all residential rental units. Officials with the Boulder Area Rental Housing Association estimate the costs will be much higher - closer to $35 million when inspection, permit and certification fees are included.
Boulder officials are proposing two different compliance options for landlords to upgrade their units.
The first option would require rental units to meet a Home Energy Rating System, or HERS, score of 120. A HERS score of 100 is equal to a building built to the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code.
The second option would require rental units to include a number of energy-efficiency upgrades from a list of options generated by the city, each with an assigned number of points. Through existing and added upgrades, the units would have to score at least 100 points on the city's list.
Boulder officials say the initiative to green rental housing is part of a broader directive from the Climate Action Plan to eventually mandate energy efficiency improvements for all existing homes and businesses in Boulder, whether they are rented or owner-occupied.
City officials are targeting existing rental housing first because a licensing system is already in place - providing an easy conduit to enforce the green mandates. Residential landlords are required to obtain or renew a rental license from the city every four years. The license requires health and safety inspections, but may soon require green inspections too.
Under the city's Climate Action Plan, the goal is to reduce emissions by two tons per housing unit by 2012.
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