New Green Renters course aims to educate renters about efficiency

Ty Betts

A new one-credit course offered at Colorado State University will aim to teach students to be, as its name suggests, green renters.

Offered through the School of Global Environmental Sustainability and open to anyone interested, the Green Renters course will take place every Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. and runs from Sept. 11-Nov. 10.


Green Renters, or GES 280, will be instructed by Dr. Anne Marie Merline, who previously taught several classes in the honors program. Merline said it is necessary to start educating renters about efficiency if the City of Fort Collins is going to reach the goals set forth in the City’s climate action plan. 

The course was adapted from a community course called Transition Streets, a public class focused on teaching homeowners how to increase efficiency in transportation, waste, water and energy. Maggie Gilman, a junior studying Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, took the community course and thought the material could be adapted to relate to student renters.

“After the course ended, I suggested to Anne Marie and other instructors that they target the rental sector, which is mostly students, which is how the course evolved,” Gilman said.

Merline said part of the problem with increasing efficiency in rental homes is that landlords do not often have incentives to increase efficiency because they do not pay for utilities. Merline believes communication can help solve this problem.  

“We’re trying to open the lines of communication between renters and landlords,” Merline said.

Merline said students will study local and international climate action plans and then create goals to reduce their personal carbon footprint.  

Anne Marie Rauker, a senior chemistry student, has taken some of Merline’s honor classes and said that Merline’s teaching style is discussion-based, which creates an open environment for students to speak.

Rauker collaborated with Merline to create the Green Renters course and is doing a thesis on Fort Collins’ current climate action plan. She said the current action plan is not the best at articulating its plans to the City and neglects a large portion of the community.

“There’s a lot of incentives for businesses and homeowners but there are not a lot of incentives and programs to help those who are renting,” Rauker said.

Gilman said she believes this course will be unique to anything else offered at CSU.


“If there are any students that need another credit, it will be unlike any other class,” Gilman said. “And it’s real life stuff. It’s going to end up saving the student money, it’s going to help the city prosper, and it’s going to help the planet.”

Collegian news reporter Ty Betts can be reached at or on Twitter @TyBetts9.