BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)– Renters in Boulder may already pay the highest rents in the Denver metro area and they may soon increase even more.

Landlords blame increases on a new city program, called “Smart Regs,” forcing them to spend thousands of dollars to make their rentals more energy efficient.

Critics said the goals of the program are admirable but they predict it’s going to hurt the people it’s supposed to help.

The theory behind the program is that by improving energy efficiency in rental units the City of Boulder will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and its carbon footprint and improve the environment.

The owners of some 20,000 rental units in Boulder will have to improve their energy efficiency in their properties, new windows, solar energy, new water heaters, add insulation, whatever it takes.

If certain levels of energy efficiency are not achieved, landlords will no longer be licensed to rent their homes, condos and apartments.

That has Jon Miller and some other property owners aggravated. Miller and his family own a 24-unit apartment building in North Boulder. To meet the new energy efficiency guidelines he estimates it will cost him at least $100,000 in energy upgrades.

When asked if he thought there would be pressure to pass the costs of upgrading to renters, Miller responded, “Absolutely.”

Renters have seen utility bills dropping thanks to the new program but now may face higher overall rent in the end.

“I think tenants will see the benefits with improved comfort, lower bills. We get good feedback from tenants,” said Boulder Sustainability Specialist Megan Cuzzolino.

Cuzzolino said energy audits show most rental units need about $2,500 in upgrades to comply with the program.

Supporters of the program say landlords are upgrading their properties with the new efficiency measures therefore increasing their values and marketability.

There are taxpayer-funded rebates available to help landlords pay for upgrades. Those rebates may not be available beyond Spring 2013.


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