What is the SmartRegs Boulder and What’s In It for Boulder Rental Properties Owners?
Smart Regulation Boulder, or simply SmartRegs Boulder, involves multiple sectors of the government that together established new energy regulations to improve tenant convenience in Boulder, Colorado’s licensed rental properties. Homes in Boulder CO are mandated by the city government to observe new energy savings guidelines in order to reduce carbon footprint of Boulder rental properties.
What is the SmartRegs Boulder all about?
It was in 2009 when the specifications under the Housing Code and Rental Housing Inspection and Licensing Program for Boulder City rentals were reviewed in order to meet modern requirements for energy sustainability and energy efficiency. The SmartRegs Boulder program is in line with the city’s Climate Action Plan or CAP, which aims to minimize the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Essentially, homes in Boulder CO are checked based on three criteria: energy conservation and efficiency by prioritizing the use of clean and renewable energy sources, conscious and cautious use of natural resources, and contributes to the natural ecosystem for community sustainability.
The SmartRegs policies were adopted by the Boulder City Council in 2010 and was made effective by January 3, 2011. Through this effort, residential properties for rent are made sure that they comply with a certain energy efficiency criteria in order to conserve energy.
The standard ensures that rental properties that are not able to meet the minimum requirements are upgraded, hence boosting the real estate market through the added value to renters. Renters get to save on energy bills, too. And the renters are not the only ones who benefit from the SmartRegs program, as the entire community collectively enjoys having sustainable energy.
Who needs to apply for a SmartRegs License?
The program makes it clear that all Boulder rental properties are required to comply with a set of energy efficiency standards by 2019. One should bare in mind, though, that the SmartRegs Boulder License is different from the Rental Housing License.
Further, all Boulder City rentals are expected to show evidence of compliance to the SmartRegs inspection by January 2, 2019 to be able to renew their Rental Housing License by 2019. From the 2011 implementation to the 2019 deadline, the rental home owners are given eight years to comply with the SmartRegs ordinances. During this period, the city council will continue to provide energy efficiency services to aid rental home owners to transition to becoming SmartRegs compliant. Those who applied within 2011-2013 were even recipients of implementation costs funding.
Apart from this, it is also important to note that failure to comply with the SmartRegs policies will lead to legal action.
Are there any exceptions for Smartregs Boulder?
There are some provisions in the SmartRegs ordinance that exempt certain homes in Boulder CO. This is subject to the evaluation of the city council, but basically, the following are exempted:
- Structures that meet or even go beyond the energy efficiency provisions under the Energy Conservation and Insulation Code, Chapter 10-7, B.R.C. 1981. (typically buildings permitted after July 2001)
- Manufactured homes in Boulder CO
- Accessory Dwelling Units and Attached Owner Accessory Units as defined in section 9-6-3, “Specific Use Standards Residential Uses.” B.R.C. 1981
- Units weatherized after September 1994, as per state or federal subsidy program requirements.
How is the SmartRegs License different from the Rental Housing License?
A Rental Housing License, as opposed to the SmartRegs License, is issued to new Boulder rental properties, properties with expired license, or a rental property whose ownership has been transferred to another.
A Rental Housing inspection can actually be one of two. It may either pertain to a baseline inspection or a renewal inspection. The first one is applied for by new Boulder City rentals. Four years after the baseline inspection, there is a need for the Boulder, Colorado rental homes to undergo a renewal inspection.
Meanwhile, Boulder rental properties owners can comply with SmartRegs requirements by choosing either the performance or prescriptive path type of inspection. The two paths are different from one another and the rental property owner may prefer one over the other based on the following:
- With the performance path, the rental property owner is to comply with a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index of 120. This rating is equivalent to the energy performance of the structure. Only a Residential Energy Services Networ or RESNET certified rater can provide a valid rating.
- Under the prescriptive path, there is a checklist of requirements that a rental property owner have to comply with. However, only a Rental Energy Efficiency Inspectors with the City of Boulder Class G License can provide a valid checklist. Each rental property has to reach 100 points with the checklist, on top of two mandatory water conservation requirements.
A client may opt to have the property undergo a rental license inspection and a SmartRegs inspection at the same time. Just bear in mind that the rental license inspection will be over and on top of the fee for the SmartRegs inspection. Fees for rental license inspectors vary, and the client is at liberty to choose which inspector they would want to work with.
What should I prepare for in a SmartRegs Energy Efficiency Application?
In the processing of the Smartregs Boulder energy efficiency requirement, the two paths differ in such a way that:
- For the performance path, the Boulder City rentals property owner attaches the HERS rating certificate that shall be provided by a certified HERS rater.
- For the prescriptive path, the rental property owner submits an information for each unit. He or she must also attach with the application the full documentation of the City of Boulder Class G License certified inspector.
If the rental owner chooses the performance path, he or she has to indicate the property address, the initial HERS score, and the final HERS score. On the other hand, under the prescriptive path, the owner indicates the unit or house number, the base points, and the final points. With this path, the owner also has to make it known whether the property uses the EnergySmart service or not.
Apart from deciding on which path to use and indicating their personal details, the Boulder City rentals property owner also identifies the location and number of dwelling and rooming units. The name of the inspector, and the local agent, if any, will have to be indicated in the application form as well.
The property owner may also opt to answer additional queries to help the city council gauge the effectiveness of the new energy efficiency policies. The questions include the retrofit amount that the property owner shelled out in order to comply with the SmartRegs requirements; rebate dollars for the retrofit measures made, if any; and whether or not financing mechanisms were used for the retrofit measures.
I am interested in EnergySmart. What more do I need to know about it?
The EnergySmart is a Boulder City and County service that helps Boulder CO rental homes owners achieve SmartRegs compliance without hassle. It aims to provide convenience to Boulder rental homes owners or property agents by serving as a one stop shop for SmartRegs compliance and another energy efficiency-related initiative; assigning an energy advisor who can give recommendations to property owners on matters involving the SmartRegs compliance; giving free installation for energy efficiency efforts; assisting owners in scheduling a contractor; and determining related rebates and incentives.
To make it clear, not everyone aiming for Smartregs Boulder compliance has to avail the EnergySmart service. SmartRegs has its own set of inspectors who are not under the EnergySmart service. If one is interested to avail of a SmartRegs inspector, there is a full list of accredited inspectors available at the Boulder City government website. The inspectors’ rates vary and clients will have to coordinate with them directly. In this regard, EnergySmart acts as a bridge between a client and only EnergySmart-accredited inspector.
On the other hand, those who choose to go with a SmartRegs inspector who is not under the EnergySmart service can still avail of a free advice from EnergySmart. The EnergySmart advisor can participate during the inspection and communicate with the inspector and property owner regarding the hiring of contractors, retrofits for energy conservation within the property, and rebates and other incentives.
If interested, the client enrolls for the EnergySmart service by indicating his or her contact details, information about the rental property including year constructed, number of bedrooms, and utilities installed. The client also has to sign a Utility Release Form but only if the utility bills are under his or her name. In case the utility bills are under the tenant’s name, the tenant will be the one to sign the Utility Release Form. EnergySmart will also take a look at the property’s utility use, if only for the energy use statistics. After these documents are presented, the client then schedules for the inspection, which usually takes a couple of hours for average property size and layout.
How much would it cost to have a SmartRegs inspection done in Boulder?
A SmartRegs inspector who is also accredited for the EnergySmart service charges 120 dollars for each inspection. Other inspectors are free to put a price on their services. EnergySmart advisors, on the other hand, come free with the SmartRegs inspection fee.
What happens during a SmartRegs inspection?
During a Smartregs Boulder inspection, one of the mandatory activities is to conduct a blower door test. This would entail closing of all openings, doors, and windows. For the duration of such test, no person can neither enter nor exit the home.
Clients should expect that the SmartRegs inspector will move from one area of the house to another and will even take a look at cooling and heating systems, and water heater, among others. The inspector may opt to go over the house from the basement to the attic. In preparation for this, hallways and passageways should be kept clutter-free. Sources of heat and fire should also be turned off during the inspection.
If availing the EnergySmart service, the client shall expect two people to conduct the inspection as the SmartRegs inspector is accompanied by an EnergySmart Advisor. The former is focused more on the technical specifics of the energy efficiency inspection while the latter can help guide the rental property owner through the process, as well as other energy efficiency-related concerns.
It should be noted, though, that a SmartRegs inspection cannot be done while the rental property is under renovation or is going through an upgrade. Also, ashes and burnt wood must also be removed from fireplaces and stoves just before the inspection starts. In addition, heating mechanisms such as these two must have cooled down completely during the inspection.
Are there any other facts that I should know about Smartregs Boulder? Or things to prepare beforehand?
A client may either pass or fail the SmartRegs inspection but it does not necessarily mean that the property will be fit or unfit for renting out. The SmartRegs inspection will reveal areas for improvement in a home rental property in terms of its energy efficiency standing. Properties that failed the inspection may undergo upgrades, retrofit measures, and enhancements so it will pass the next round of inspection. This is where the need for an EnergySmart Advisor comes in. He or she can help a rental property owner come up with decisions regarding the needed upgrades. The advisor may also guide the client in coordinating with a contractor should he or she decide to pursue with the upgrades.
In conclusion, one should not worry too much about a SmartRegs inspection, nor should it be a source of fear. Getting a license is made easy and convenient for Boulder City rentals owners. It really is for the good of the rental property owner, the tenants, and the Boulder City community as a whole. If one passes the inspection, then congratulations. If not, then the property simply needs some upgrade to pass the next inspection. With the energy savings that results from making a property more energy efficient, the property owner is assured of a higher resale value for the property, tenants can look forward to lower energy bills, and the community of Boulder City works towards achieving energy sustainability.