Dubuque Partners with RentLab to Promote Rental Housing Sustainability
Feb. 8, 2023
The City of Dubuque has entered a new partnership with RentLab to promote energy efficiency, affordability, and sustainability in Dubuque’s rental housing sector.
The partnership aims to reduce the overall energy cost burden on Dubuque renter households, as lower-income households can pay upwards of 9% of their total income in annual energy costs. Increasing sustainability in local rental units will also be essential in enabling the City to meet its sustainability goals under the 50% by 2030 Community Climate Action and Resiliency Plan.
“Energy efficiency is a win for everyone,” said Ben Pothoff, housing inspection supervisor for the City of Dubuque’s Housing and Community Development Department. “Tenants get more comfortable places to live and lower utility bills, and landlords get less tenant turnover because the cost of living in their units is more predictable.”
RentLab is a social benefit corporation that rates rental properties based on efficiency and sustainability. RentLab’s public platform creates positive visibility for efficient properties, and the scoring system helps prioritize opportunities for improvement.
“When we talk about sustainability, we’re usually not talking about anything fancy at all,” said Jacqui Bauer, co-founder and CEO of RentLab. “We’re really looking for basics, like decent insulation, LED lighting, and efficient HVAC equipment. This isn’t about finding the next award-winning net-zero home, although we certainly like those too. RentLab is about fundamentals.”
The RentLab rating system – or “Smart Living Score” - also considers walkability, access to public transit, access to recycling, acceptance of Housing Choice Vouchers, and other factors that contribute to overall economic, social, and environmental sustainability. The community’s highest-scoring properties will receive annual “Sustainability Leader” recognition.
The initial version of the website has been built with publicly available data, and is available at www.rentlab.org/dubuque-ia. The map of properties is located at https://dubuque.rentlab.city/ Both tenants and landlords can share information about their rental properties on the site as well.
“Many properties with lower scores on the site are just missing info,” said Pothoff. “The idea behind RentLab is that the community, over time, can fill these data gaps, and then identify incentive programs and other resources that could be used for improvements. It’s about finding opportunities that will make Dubuque more affordable and resilient in the long run.”
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