Denver Releases Net Zero Energy New Buildings and Homes Implementation

Published on January 26, 2021

Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency (CASR) today released its Net Zero Energy (NZE) New Buildings and Homes Implementation Plan. Buildings and homes together represent 63 percent of Denver’s 2019 emissions, and by 2050, 40 percent of Denver’s buildings will be new. Denver plans to achieve net zero energy in all new building and homes by 2030. Reducing emissions in new buildings and homes is a critical component to addressing climate change in Denver.

“Through extensive stakeholder input from the Net Zero Energy Stakeholder Advisory Groups and feedback from the community, Denver’s NZE New Buildings Implementation Plan details the targets, supports, and considerations needed to reach net zero energy by 2030 in support of net zero emissions,” said Grace Rink, CASR’s Executive Director.

Denver’s detailed NZE goals are:

  • The 2024 Building Code will require net zero energy, all-electric new homes.
  • The 2027 Building Code will require net zero energy, all-electric new buildings.
  • The 2030 Building Code will require new buildings perform as designed (performance verification).

These NZE milestones align with recommendations from the Climate Action Task Force for net zero new homes in the 2024 Building Code and net zero new buildings in the 2027 Building Code.

Denver defines “Net Zero Energy (NZE)” as a new building or home that is highly energy-efficient and fully powered from on-site and/or off-site renewable energy. This means that new buildings and homes will be:

  1. Highly Energy Efficient
  2. All-Electric
  3. Powered by Renewable Energy
  4. Providers of Demand Flexibility for the Grid

Each of these four foundations of net zero energy in Denver are addressed in detail in the Implementation Plan. In addition to the technical solutions and cost considerations, reaching net zero in Denver will require supportive strategies such as marketing, outreach, training, education, financing, and advocacy, as well as internal support such as staffing and program resources, which are also addressed in the plan.

While affordability, equity, and health have always been part of Denver’s climate work, these considerations are now more important than ever. Studies have shown that low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by climate change and energy insecurity. To address these inequities, CASR’s Net Zero New Buildings and Homes work will be considered in conjunction with the supports needed to achieve the goals equitably and affordably.

Ultimately, the targets within the Implementation Plan will go through each Denver Code Adoption process to be incorporated into the Denver Building and Fire Code. Denver plans to align its code updates with national code updates which are updated every three years in 2021, 2024, 2027, and 2030. Denver is committed to ensuring that each of its code adoption processes are open and inclusive.

Learn more about CASR’s High Performance Buildings and Homes work at denvergov.org/energizedenver

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About Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency

Mayor Michael Hancock and the Denver City Council created the Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency to manage the City's ambitious emission reduction goals and sustainability programs in collaboration with fellow departments, other units of government, and community partners. The office ensures that the City's targets are aligned with current climate science, promotes the role that climate action and sustainability play in strengthening Denver's economic vitality and a prosperous future for all residents and businesses, and embraces equity as a value and practice in all of its work.

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