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Better Denver Bond projects are incorporating green design and construction approaches that encourage energy efficiency, recycling, and the wise use of land, water and other materials. These design and construction approaches can also reduce capital, operations and maintenance costs. Better Denver projects seek sustainable elements that can be readily implemented, are environmentally responsible, and which balance the economic, environmental and social aspects of each project. Techniques used or considered include using post-consumer recycled materials; recycling, salvaging or reusing construction or demolition waste; and reducing water consumption through the use of efficient landscaping and irrigation.

Where practical and possible, the Better Denver Bond Program is also pursuing opportunities to build and design its major new vertical construction projects to achieve LEED certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is a building rating system that provides a suite of world-recognized standards for environmentally sustainable design, construction and operation.  The Better Denver sustainable development approach and the achievement of LEED certification for specific Better Denver projects are consistent with and help to further the City’s Greenprint Denver 2012 Climate Action Plan.

LEED Certification

LEED Plaque

The rating system promotes design and construction practices to reduce the negative environmental impacts of buildings, improve occupant health and well-being, and lower operating costs. The LEED methodology recognizes performance in six design categories of human and environmental health:

  1. Locations and transportation
  2. Sustainable sites
  3. Water efficiency
  4. Energy and atmosphere
  5. Materials and resources
  6. Indoor environmental quality

LEED certification is only obtained through a rigorous, independent third-party commissioning and verification process. There are four certification levels for new construction - Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum - that correspond to the number of credits accrued in the six design categories of human and environmental health mentioned above. The LEED rating system was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit coalition of building industry leaders. LEED standards cover new commercial construction and major renovation projects, interiors projects, existing building operations, commercial "core & shell" construction, new home construction, and neighborhood developments.

Examples of "Green Building" in Better Denver Projects

The 26,000 sq. ft. structure uses an under-floor air distribution system along with evaporative cooling and a “sensible energy recovery wheel” to condition outdoor air without mechanical refrigeration. Overall projected energy savings for the building’s operation amount to over $41,000 annually. This represents 66.8% in energy use savings and 63.7% in energy cost savings over standard construction practices. In addition, the project qualified for $21,000 in Xcel Energy cooling rebates.

The Green Valley Ranch Branch Library achieved Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. The Gold Certification is based on the library's aggressive efforts to design, build and operate the facility in a sustainable way that helps to protect and enhance the environment. LEED measures how well a building performs across metrics of energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor air quality, and stewardship of natural resources.

Read more from the Denver Library

This building achieved LEED Gold certification. A combination of daylight harvesting using skylights and Solatubes, high performance window glass, and solar shading is designed to shed 70% of the solar heat gain and reduce indoor lighting demands. LED parking lot lighting was installed and is expected to reduce energy use by 30%. A 15 kW solar photovoltaic system that returns electricity back to the grid was also installed as a demonstration project. And the natatorium uses a special heat distribution system as well as a lap pool cover designed to achieve 15-20% energy savings.

Using on-site renewable energy and passive mechanical strategies, the City’s first net-zero building has been completed. A solar chimney provides constant natural ventilation to the building and reduces utilization of the mechanical exhaust system. This prototype for future restrooms features 25% recycled content materials.

Renovations included new high-efficiency condensing boilers; new high-efficiency lighting; an improved building automation system; recycled content; low-VOC carpet and paint; FSC-certified millwork; on-demand water heaters; and low flow fixtures.

Renovations included seven Coolerado (HVAC-Type) units; a new building automation system; new insulated skylights; new high-efficiency lighting; recycled content; low-VOC carpet and paint; and low flow fixtures.

The Better Denver Bond Program converted an existing warehouse into office space and constructed a new Police Firearms Training Facility. The complex features reuse of an existing building on a compact, efficient site. Sustainability features include: 48% water savings against LEED criteria, tilt-up walls with continuous insulation, high-efficiency boilers and water heaters, low lighting density, and variable air volume rooftop units.


Public Art

Public Art One Percent (1%) — The City of Denver has a tradition of fostering public art to make public spaces more appealing and enjoyable for everyone. Denver’s Public Art Program, established in the late 1980s, provides opportunities and funding for public art. In I991 the program was revised to strengthen the funding and tie it to new construction and renovation for city projects. One percent (1%) of the construction budget of any single city capital improvement project with a combined design and construction budget over $1 million must be set aside for the inclusion of art in the new project.

Public Art Bond Projects Overview

Art for a Better DenverThe Better Denver program is incorporating public art into qualifying construction projects in a variety of ways: as a stand-alone piece, an architectural feature of a building or facility, or incorporated into landscaping. The art program applies to new construction or improvements to a “building or structure, road, streetscape, pedestrian mall or plaza or park” or any other project which includes “finished space for human occupancy” that will be “available for public view.” About 30-plus bond projects qualified for inclusion in the Public Art Program. New art projects will be announced regularly via or visit Denver Arts & Venues.

Overall Art program Goals

  • Each project site is unique
  • Encourage creative combinations
  • Reach out to emerging artists
  • Give artists the tools to apply and succeed
  • Sustainability
  • Design excellence


Artist Janet Echelman’s 1.26 floating fabric sculpture at Civic Center Park (Photo copyright by Echelman)

Contact Denver Arts and Venues with questions about public art.


Arts and Venues (formerly Denver Office of Cultural Affairs/DOCA) oversees the Public Art Program and guides its activities, which are covered under the Denver Revised Municipal Code [DRMC] 20-85 ordinance. Arts and Venues, with the City Attorney’s office, determines the applicability of the art program for city projects. DOCA is overseen by the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs, a citizen group appointed by the Mayor of Denver that advises the City on art and cultural issues.

Program artworks are selected through a public process that includes citizens, artists and design professionals. Each public art project is specific to its location and each selection panel is unique. Panel members are charged with identifying works that speak to a location, a group of people, a time in history, and that represent Denver. Artists are chosen who can create works that engage the viewer, inform the visitor and add vitality to Denver’s cultural landscape. Over the past 18 years, the City has installed over 150 works of art under this program.