“Green space” is any area open to the sky and containing trees, groundcover, shrubs, urban agriculture, natural grass, turf, or a vegetated roof. Green space can be provided on a roof (a vegetated roof or “green roof”) or at grade.
For this compliance option, the ordinance requires an amount of green space related to either the gross floor area, total roof area, or available roof area. To calculate available roof area, start with the total roof area and deduct the following:
- Private terraces equal to or smaller than the gross floor area of the abutting unit at the roof level
- Outdoor amenity spaces, including but not limited to areas for recreational or social use
- Rooftop mechanical, electrical, or other equipment, including cell towers and other equipment leasing space on the roof, and all required clearances around these areas
- Glass-covered atriums
- Glazing (windows)
- Areas covered by renewable energy devices
Green space at grade
Existing green space cannot be used to meet the green buildings ordinance, unless it is improved with trees or an above-grade, vegetated, water quality facility. Review the following information in the Rules and Regulations:
- Requirements for trees
- Protecting or adding trees in the public right-of-way
- Water quality facility
New buildings that have a vegetated storm water treatment area or a zoning requirement for open space can count these spaces, provided the area meets Section 4.02(e)(1) of the Rules and Regulations.
Zoning permits for green space at grade
Denver’s site development plan (SDP) review team will review any proposed green space on the ground to ensure it meets zoning standards as well as the green buildings ordinance.
First, read Section 4.02(e) in the Rules and Regulations. This section details minimum planting area sizes, what qualifies as climate-appropriate vegetation, guidelines on irrigation/potable water use, and when soil testing is required.
Then, include the following information in your submittal:
- Cover sheet that includes the building area calculation and the following note:
Green space is shown on this site development plan for compliance with Article XIII of Chapter 10, must be maintained, and cannot be used for purposes other than that shown on this site development plan. Should a future amendment change the amount or location of this green space, then additional green space must be provided to document compliance or payment of cash-in-lieu fees will be required.
- Site plan
- Roof plan
- Maintenance plan
- Landscape plan
- Photometric plan (only if new lighting is being installed)
Green roofs are subject to the design and construction requirements detailed in Article IV, Section 4.02(d) in the Rules and Regulations. Read this section carefully before submitting architectural, structural, plumbing, electrical, or mechanical plans for a green roof.
Construction plans for a green roof must be accompanied by maintenance and irrigation plans that include the items listed in Section 4.02(d)(ii)(4-5) in the Rules and Regulations. Vegetation and growing media specified on the construction documents must coordinate with the maintenance plan.
Green roof construction permits
Projects incorporating a green roof will receive a building permit for the green roof and a standard roof permit for the underlying roof/waterproof membrane of the building.
The green roof permit requires a Denver-licensed green roof installer. Licensed roofing contractors will need to obtain licenses in lawn irrigation and green roof installation to build green roofs. The lawn irrigation and green roof licenses help ensure a high standard of green roof construction by individuals who are skilled in selecting vegetation appropriate for Denver’s climate and equipping it for successful growth and maintenance going forward, long after a green roof installation is complete.
The lawn irrigation and green roof installation licenses are designed for people with irrigation and landscaping experience and do not explicitly cover roofing, so a licensed roofer or building contractor will need to be part of every green roof project.