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Denver's Green Roof Ordinance

On November 7, Denver voters passed the Green Roof Initiative ("Initiative 300").

The ordinance went into effect on January 1, 2018. The green roof requirement applies to projects that submit a site development plan on or after January 1, 2018, for any new building with a gross floor area of 25,000 square feet or more or a building addition that causes the building to become 25,000 square feet or more, and any existing building over 25,000 square feet that is seeking to do a roof replacement.

Administrative Rules & Regulations

On April 30, 2018, Denver adopted rules and regulations for implementing Article XIII, Chapter 10, of the Denver Revised Municipal Code (the green roofs ordinance). These rules should be read in conjunction with the ordinance. Adoption of the rules followed a public input process held earlier in 2018.

Permitting guidance

Per the terms of the green roof ordinance, projects over 25,000 square feet that require a site development plan review or "SDP" (new commercial construction, major additions, new construction of three or more residential units, and some tenant-finish/remodel projects undergoing change of occupancy) must have submitted a complete, formal phase site plan and paid the associated review fees by December 29, 2017, in order to be exempt from the green roof requirement.

A concept plan is not sufficient for exemption from the green roof requirement

Please note that the SDP review process begins with a required concept phase, which entails submitting a conceptual site plan and application and attending a concept meeting to determine feasibility of the project, among other items. The concept site plan is not as detailed as the formal site plan submitted later in the process, has no review fees associated with its review, and is not sufficient to exempt a project from the green roof requirement. 

Buildings over 25,000 square feet will not be able to obtain roof permits online after January 1. These roofs, whether believed to be eligible for an exemption or not, must complete and submit the Green Roof Declaration Form linked below in order for staff to verify exemptions before issuing a roof permit. 

Submittal Requirements

Any roof project that will include a green roof component or is requesting an exemption or a variance must fill out the Green Roof Declaration Form below.

  • New buildings, additions, remodels, and tenant-finish projects will also need to download the Commercial Building Permit Guide (contains additional non-green-roof forms and instructions for these projects)
  • For any project that will include a green roof, request a variance, or request an exemption on the basis of major structural alterations being necessary, make a Log In appointment to submit the above information. 

Fees

Green roofs are subject to the same plan review and permit fee schedules as all other building permits. View building permit fees.

Changing your roof contractor after January 1

If you received a valid roof permit by December 31 and need to change the contractor listed on the permit, you may obtain a new permit without having to meet the green roof requirement.

Extensions of issued roof permits

For all permits, including roof permits, work must commence within 60 days from the date of permit issuance. You can request an extension of a roof permit if your construction schedule will extend the roof work out beyond 60 days. Extensions of valid permits will not require a project to meet the green roof standards.

Licensed roofing contractors in Denver will need to obtain licenses in lawn irrigation and green roof installation if they intend to build green roofs after January 2, 2018. These new license types help ensure a high standard of green roof construction by individuals who are skilled in selecting vegetation appropriate for our climate and equipping it for successful growth and maintenance going forward, long after a green roof installation is complete.

The new lawn irrigation and green roof license types are available for any entity having the appropriate experience who wishes to be part of a green roof design and installation team.

Please be aware these licenses are designed for people with irrigation and landscaping experience and do not explicitly cover roofing work, so a licensed roofer or building contractor will still need to be part of a green roof project.

At this time, only the following projects are exempt from the green roof requirement:

  • Projects that have submitted a complete building permit application or complete site plan application prior to January 1, 2018,
  • Residential buildings that are 4 stories or less or have a height of 50 feet or less (whichever is greater), and
  • Commercial greenhouses at grade, temporary structures, and air-supported structures.

The green roof ordinance allows applicants who are unable to provide the required green roof coverage to make a cash-in-lieu payment, contingent on approval of an exemption request made to the Planning Board. The ordinance (PDF) specifies the amount and terms of the payment. Your project must be logged in for plan review before you can request a variance.


Potential for modifications to the ordinance

The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) is leading a formal stakeholder engagement and public input process to review and possibly modify the ordinance. We are committed to honoring the will of the voters by meeting or exceeding the benefits that the green roofs ordinance would have for our climate, reduced heat island effect, and storm water management.

DDPHE has formed a Green Roofs Review Task Force of stakeholders to develop recommended modifications, clarifications, and improvements to the initiative through a collaborative, consensus-based process. (This group is separate and distinct from the Technical Advisory Group that will advise CPD on the implementation of the ordinance as written.) The Green Roofs Review Task Force meetings are open to the public to attend. View a list of the task force's members (PDF).

Meeting location and schedule:

All meetings will take place at 200 W 14th Ave, 2nd Floor, Grand Mesa Room.

Friday, Jan. 19, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (Download meeting summary)
Wednesday, Feb. 7, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. (Download meeting summary and slide deck)
Wednesday, Feb. 14, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Download meeting summary and slide deck)
Thursday, March 1, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Download meeting summary)
Wednesday, March 21, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. (Download meeting summary)
Friday, April 6, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. (Download meeting summary and slide deck)
Wednesday, May 2, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. (Download meeting summary and slide deck)
Wednesday, May 23, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Thursday, June 7, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

 

Public Comment Period Open

May 3, 2018 - The Green Roofs Review Task Force has drafted a proposal for modifying the green roofs ordinance. The proposal and its supporting documentation are now available for public review and comment. 

Comments may also be sent via email to katrina.managan@denvergov.org.

Responses received by noon on May 18 will be given to the task force members ahead of their May 23 meeting. The comment period closes at noon on June 3, and the remaining responses will be sent to the task force at that time.

There will also be two public briefings and input sessions held at the Webb Building (201 W. Colfax Ave.):

  • Friday, May 11, 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. in room 4.G.2
  • Monday, May 14, 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. in room 1.B.6

Any changes to the initiative will require the support of two-thirds of City Council, or 9 votes.

To receive updates on the stakeholder engagement process and opportunities for public input, sign up for the DDPHE's Green Roofs Review Stakeholder Process email newsletter or view past newsletters.

Want to provide your input? If you have data, information, or a perspective that you believe is critical for the task force to have in order to do their work, please share it via email with katrina.managan@denvergov.org.

 

Join the Technical Advisory Group

If you are interested in joining the Green Roof Technical Advisory Group, send a resume to barry.burch@denvergov.org

To learn more about the function and qualifications of this committee, please visit Denver's Boards & Commissions webpage and scroll down to "Green Roof Technical Advisory Group."

City Council Green Roofs Meetings

All City Council meetings on the Green Roofs Ordinance and the Task Force's progress will take place in Room 391 of the City and County Building at 1437 Bannock St., Denver, CO 80202.

All meetings are open to the public.