Boulder Smart Regs

What are Boulder Smart Regs?

Boulder Smart Regs, also known as Smart Regulations, require all rental housing, about half of Boulder’s housing stock, to meet basic energy efficient standards by 2019. The Smart Regs ordinances (smart-regulations-boulder ) update the City of Boulder Housing Code, Rental Licensing Code, and provide new baseline energy efficiency requirements for existing rental housing in Boulder. Addressing energy efficiency in existing rental housing will allow the city to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet community climate objectives.

Boulder Smart Regs Background

During a 2008 City Council Study Session on the Climate Action Plan (CAP), the council identified strategies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet CAP objectives. One of the primary strategies for reaching this goal is reducing energy use in buildings. From 2007 through the first quarter of 2009, several energy efficiency measures were implemented that exceeded 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) minimum standards for residential and commercial buildings in new construction, remodels and additions

Addressing energy efficiency in existing rental housing and existing commercial buildings has been the focus of the 2009-work plan. Changes to the rental housing and inspection program, including options for energy efficiency requirements, are being developed and will be reviewed by several city boards and City Council at the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010. The development of a Commercial Energy Conservation Ordinance (CECO) is also being analyzed and will be scheduled for council consideration.

The Community Planning and Sustainability and Public Works departments are examining code changes needed to update the technical provisions of the Housing Code and rental housing inspection and licensing program. Potential code requirements that would further community sustainability objectives, especially energy efficiency, are also to be examined. Adjustments to the rental licensing provisions of the code may be warranted to further streamline and clarify its administration, including evaluating the program’s cost recovery and fees.

Boulder Smart Regs effects on Housing Code and Rental Licensing

The existing house code was replaced by the 2009 International Property Maintenance Code. Like the previous housing code, the IPMC provides regulations for all housing within the City of Boulder, including rental properties.

These new Boulder SmartRegs also had an effect on rental licensing. The rental-licensing fee has changed from $46.00 to $70.00 per building. Also, any city-performed inspection, due to a complaint, will result in a $250 fee to cover the cost of the inspection.

However, there are a few exceptions that don’t apply to these changes. Any buildings that meet any of the following requirements are not subject to the change of the Boulder Smart Regs:
1. Buildings that meet or exceed the energy efficient requirements of the Energy Conservation and Insulation Code. These usually involved buildings built after July 2001.
2. Units defined by the state as “special use standard residential uses”
3. Units weathered after September 1994, according to state or federal standards (documentation is required)

Single family homes in Boulder need to conform to Boulder Smart Regs by 2019


Boulder Smart Regs Details

Smart Regs is a separate inspection from the Boulder Rental License Inspection that every rental property and owner must have every four years. Every rental property must have a current rental license beginning with a “new” or “Baseline Inspection” and it must be renewed every four years by a “Renewal Inspection” and then a license is reissued for another four years. There are significant penalties for not having a current or active Rental License, which includes fines and jail time if awarded by a judge. If you rent your property to non-relatives, you don’t live in the property and you don’t have a Rental License, then you could be subject to these penalties!
There are two different types of Smart Regs Inspections and the rental property owner must choose one type and qualify with the minimum number of required points. The two types are: the Performance Inspection that requires a minimum of 120 points and the Prescriptive Inspection that requires a minimum of 100 points. Points are given for specific types of energy saving features in the rental property. If you would like to read more about this “point system” or view recommendations from a City of Boulder Smart Regs Inspector, visit Robert & Sons website.

Boulder Energy Smart Program

At the same time that Smart Regs went into effect, Boulder County launched the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-funded Energy Smart program, which provides rebates, low-cost energy assessments, and technical assistance to encourage residential and commercial property owners to invest in energy efficiency. The City of Boulder complemented these County initiatives by launching the Energy Smart Service, a streamlined one-stop-shop for helping residential property owners through the Prescriptive Path Smart Regs compliance process by providing on-on-one assistance as well as financial incentives specifically for properties required to make upgrades.

Representatives from both the County and City programs stress that funds are limited and they use messaging that creates a sense of urgency in encouraging building owners to take action.

City officials are beginning to plan a small set of proposed changes to the ordinances that will address gaps discovered through the first year of experience in order to create a better platform for potentially tightening the standards in the future. In addition, the City may consider establishing standards for existing commercial buildings. Implementation would likely be quite different without a rental licensing process to tap. However, as with Smart Regs, the City intends to make it clear that the commercial property stakeholders would be well-involved throughout the entire standards development process.

If you have more questions about the Boulder Smart Regulations, feel free to contact Energy Smart. Energy Smart helps homes and businesses in all Boulder County communities become more comfortable and energy efficient. An expert Energy Advisor can answer your questions, help prioritize projects, connect you with qualified contractors, find and apply for incentives and low-cost financing, and make energy upgrades easier and more affordable!

unobstructed and zoomed in (just a touch) photo of the Boulder Flatirons from balcony at Bramford Condominiums
Boulder Colorado with the Flatirons in the background


Boulder Smart Regs Frequently Asked Questions

To view frequently asked questions about the new Boulder Smart Regulations, visit the City of Boulder’s website.

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