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City Council Passes Multi-family and Commercial Building Efficiency Ordinance

New requirements key to city’s efforts in achieving climate goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Denver City Council tonight unanimously passed an ordinance aimed at reducing energy use in the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions by requiring energy benchmarking and transparency in multi-family and commercial buildings. The new ordinance, the Energize Denver program, is a key component of the city’s efforts to achieve Denver’s 2020 Sustainability and Climate Action Plan goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050.

“By passing this ordinance, we’re aiming to make Denver a sustainable city for generations to come,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “Local actions can have global impacts, and Denver will join with cities across the world who are taking positive steps to make their cities more resilient to our changing climate.”

Denver is among 16 other large cities to pass similar ordinances in an effort to achieve climate goals, while realizing the economic benefits of long term energy savings.

Beginning in 2017, commercial and multi-family buildings over 25,000 square feet will be required to track and report their ENERGY STAR score. In 2018, buildings over 50,000 square feet will be required to report their score. The ENERGY STAR score measures and tracks their energy use, will be made available to the public on an annual basis. 

Energy use from heating and cooling in buildings is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Denver, making up approximately 57 percent of Denver’s carbon emissions. The benchmarking is estimated to lead to annual energy savings between two and three percent. 

The ordinance followed an 18-month stakeholder process led by Denver’s Department of Environmental Health, that incorporated a series of recommendations made by the Energize Denver Task Force on how to achieve significant reductions from commercial and multi-family buildings.