Harvard Tenants Union Brings Energy Survey to Rent Board

The Harvard Tenants' Union (HTU) last night presented the Cambridge Rent Control Board with partial results of a survey on energy consumption and heating, which it said demonstrates a "gross form of mismanagement" by Harvard Real Estate (HRE).

Of the 174 tenants responding to the survey, 78 per cent said their apartments are "overheated at times," and 43 per cent said they "experienced wild fluctuations in temperature" in their apartments.


"Heat is literally going out the windows and we, as tenants, don't want to pay for it." Michael Turk, HTU coordinator, told the rent board.

HRE officials were unavailable for comment yesterday.


Rent Board officials told the ten HTU members attending last night's meeting that Cambridge's Rent Control office is currently compiling a list of the city's buildings ranked in order of energy usuage.

The Board plans to refuse to pass on increased fuel costs in buildings near the top of the list in order to persuade landlords to make energy-saving capital improvements.

"There are a lot of Harvard buildings at the high end of the list," rent board member Arthur Cohen said, adding, "but Harvard is now pursuing the problem vigorously and we expect them to soon move past other buildings in the city" in energy efficiency.

Cohen told the HTU members, "You should actually consider yourselves very fortunate" because "I would think you are in an extraordinarily favorable situation and would stay a Harvard tenant."

Harvard is one of the few Cambridge landlords that can afford the major renovations needed to reduce fuel consumption, Cohen said.

But Turk said that Harvard could cut fuel costs simply by eliminating waste, performing routine maintenance, and obtaining quantity discounts on fuel.