Reflections from our recent renter energy efficiency open houses in Allston, Mattapan, and South Boston.

“And I can get it as a renter? They will just call me if I sign up here?” asked Christopher, a renter I met at a recent energy efficiency workshop. I nodded my head, and he responded, “Well, why don’t I do that now!” with honest conviction.

Christopher was one of the people I talked to during the workshops I hosted with Lourdes Lopez, the Renew Boston Program Manager, in Allston, Mattapan, and South Boston. His attitude reminded me that there are probably thousands of other renters like him who have never heard of the energy resources we offer and would be similarly enthusiastic at discovering them.

I have also gotten to know the Mass Save representatives at these events. The three that I met, Neil, Steve and Brad, were enthusiastic to share their experiences at Mass Save and explained how they engage with homeowners, landlords, and renters. They explained that unlike three hour homeowner audits, renter audits are less than two hours, which is easier for the resident, but less comprehensive.

For that reason, the representatives try hard to encourage landlords to participate in a whole building energy audit, but that engagement can be more difficult. Many landlords do not live in Boston, and do not have an immediate desire to change their property. This missing incentive is one of the biggest challenges cities like Boston face in improving residential energy efficiency: residents don’t have the power to substantially upgrade their home, and their landlords have little incentive to do so.

The City of Boston, Mass Save, Eversource, National Grid, and local community partners will need to put our heads together collaboratively to tackle this and meet the city’s 2050 carbon neutrality target. As the Renew Boston Fellow, I plan to explore this issue further and gain a deeper understanding of stakeholder values and needs to help start crafting solutions.


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