Green Grade Project



UpGrade Ohio (UGO) connects people to the resources they need to save energy and transition to clean energy solutions, from basic energy efficiency improvements to renewable energy investments your career. Ohio University students are one example of a group that gains from improved energy efficiency.

UGO launched the Smart Renter Program in 2015, resulting in several successful initiatives: LED bulb distribution to off-campus renters and landlords, the Smart Renter email campaign, and the Smart Renter’s Guide, available through the Campus Involvement Center at Ohio University (pilot school). The Smart Renter Program has a proven track record for developing and supporting community-based energy initiatives, and we’re only just beginning.

Most students are first-time renters. They often lack the knowledge to ask important questions about the comfort and efficiency of the unit they are renting. Typically, students are short-term tenants, staying one year on average in a rental unit off campus. With such a high turnover, there is little time or incentive for landlords to make any capital improvements.

This is known as the split incentive problem, and over time this problem has led to increasingly poor quality rental houses in the Athens, Ohio area. Older housing stock needs upgrading but there are no coordinated programs to promote participation. UpGrade Ohio’s Green Grade Project would impact the split incentive problem by driving demand for energy efficient rental properties through a web-based rental rating system.


The Green Grade Project is designed to guide prospective tenants through a sophisticated website whereby search indicators lead the user to conclude that a rental with a higher energy efficiency rating is more desirable than a property with a lower rating.

This system would be designed to encourage participating landlords to make improvements to their rental units to receive a higher energy rating and attract quality tenants. UpGrade currently provides information to landlords on rebates and other resources available to help improve energy efficiency in their properties. The rating system will stimulate the overall improvement of rental housing stock in an area long neglected.



The Green Grade Project will have three critical impacts:

  • Improve student’s total university experience by aiding their search for quality, cost-effective, off-campus rentals.
  • Create a central location for education and direction on all issues surrounding student off-campus housing.
  • Foster long-term improvement of off-campus student rentals particularly in the areas of comfort, reduced utility bills, capital improvement and competitiveness.


Contact the Rental Efficiency Team:

Ann Moneypenny, UpGrade Athens County Rental Efficiency Coordinator

Sarah Conley-Ballew, UpGrade Ohio Executive Director