Thursday, March 12, 2009

Landlords Go Green for Tenants

Elizabeth Lowry

Half of the Athens population make-up is students enrolled in the university who need a place to live. According to Ohio University policy, students must live on-campus for their first two years, but have the opportunity to live off-campus after that, which many choose to do. Transitioning from dorm residents to utility paying tenants is often not easy for many students.

Helping the Climate
Ohio University's Office of Sustainability has attempted to come up with a way to make leasing an off-campus house more affordable and environmentally friendly for tenants. Ohio University has been collaborating with the Corporation for Ohio's Appalachian Development or COAD, creating "The Green House Project". COAD is a non-profit organization helping out Appalachian counties in southeastern Ohio. The main purpose of COAD is to help customers lower their energy use and fuel bills.

The Green House Project
The Green House Project, funded by the University's Office of Sustainability, is part of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, and the Cool Cities Initiative. The Climate Commitment Program is dedicated to educating institutions about neutralizing green house gas emissions. The Cool Cities Initiative is an agreement made by city leaders across the country to stop global warming and encourage city residents to make smarter energy decisions. The Green House Project's intent is to make energy efficiency improvements in local rentals for students.

So far, nineteen landlords have signed up for the program. The sign-up process is relatively easy, all landlords have to do is submit an application to the Office of Sustainability with a $75.00 fee. Once signed-up with the project, the benefits are numerous. Details on these benefits can be found at the Green House Project website.

-Professional whole house efficiency audit including:
*blower door test
*interviews with tenants and landlord
*room-by-room equipment inspection
*safety inspection

-Utility billing analysis based on degree days

-Personalized recommendations for upgrades

-List of local service and product suppliers

-Up to $500 cash refund for improvements

-Detailed conservation tips for tenants

-6 free compact flourescent light bulbs

-High-efficiency showerhead

-Final quality inspection and report

-Promotional campaign for participating units

Green Results
A few of the landlords are getting a jump start with the program including Athens landlord, Joel Laufman. Laufman completed the program for the first of his 22 properties by installing a new showerhead, fluorescent light bulbs and new windows to his rental on Grosvenor Street. Ohio University Graduate Student, Josh Long, says he thinks his landlord does an excellent job of helping out his tenants.

Renter Josh Long says his landlord does an excellent job

Long says his landlord has also been working toward becoming more energy efficient for his tenants.

Renter Josh Long on his house becoming more energy efficient

Action and Awareness
Because this project is in conjunction with both the university and off-campus residents it will heighten the awareness of the entire community of the benefits of energy usage, climate change, and utility costs. With the help of this project, if landlords continue to abide by the terms of the project agreement and more landlords take advantage of the services then organizers beleive the Athens housing market will be safer, healthier, and more comfortable for not just Ohio University students, but all Athens residents.

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