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Greener construction will be part of Denver’s future

Flexible strategies that are both better for the environment and lower cost are possible under Denver’s new Green Buildings Ordinance

Today, Denver achieves an important milestone with the launch of a new and improved “Green Buildings Ordinance,” which updates the green roofs initiative initially approved by voters in November 2017. The new ordinance strengthens the environmental benefits of the original ordinance with flexible, cost-effective options suited for all buildings in Denver over 25,000 square feet in size.

The new Green Buildings Ordinance was carefully designed to honor the will of the voters who called for more sustainable development in Denver, while fixing the legal and practical challenges of the original ordinance. It was approved by Denver City Council Monday night.

“Green roofs are an option for many new buildings in Denver, but we needed a standard that could work for our existing buildings, many of which weren’t built to support the weight of a green roof,” said Jill Jennings Golich, interim executive director of Community Planning and Development (CPD). “The new Green Buildings Ordinance has several viable options for both new and existing buildings to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and help reduce the urban heat island effect without expensive structural work.”

The new Green Buildings Ordinance was devised by a collaborative task force of individuals who represented proponents and opponents of the original green roofs initiative. The task force included the creators of the original ordinance, city staff, technical experts in green roofs and renewable energy, and members of the industries directly affected by green building requirements. Over the course of 10 months, this group worked to create an innovative approach for green building that achieves each of the following benefits, when compared to the original green roofs ordinance:

  • A greater urban heat island reduction by requiring simple and affordable “cool roofs” on all buildings subject to the ordinance, versus green roofs that only cover part of the roof, have higher costs, and only some buildings can implement

  • Up to 3.5 million more square feet of green space by 2050, which can be provided on the roof or on the ground, where it will be more accessible for residents and wildlife to enjoy

  • A similar reduction in greenhouse gas emissions but at a cost of 20% to 90% less for property owners

  • Greater flexibility in building design and improved water and storm water management

“The new ordinance looks at development holistically and has an array of green space, energy conservation, renewable energy, and other great options to choose from,” said Bob McDonald, executive director of Denver’s Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) and the City’s Public Health Administrator. “We are excited by what this means for Denver.”

Open House on the New Ordinance

CPD will host an open house on November 15, 2018, for developers, contractors, property owners, and other interested individuals to discuss the flexible options available for buildings under the new Green Buildings Ordinance.

What: Building Permits for Projects under the Green Buildings Ordinance

When: November 15 from 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Where: Denver Post Building Auditorium, 101 W. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80202

Draft Rules and Regulations are in Progress

CPD and DDPHE are jointly working to draft rules and regulations for managing the implementation of this ordinance. A draft of the rules and regulations is available for public review and comment here. Final rules are expected to be adopted in February 2019.

Learn more: www.denvergov.org/greenroofs

View a list of task force members (PDF)

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BUILDING COMMUNITY: Denver Community Planning and Development (CPD) is responsible for visionary city planning and ensuring safe, responsible, sustainable building. CPD regulates planning, zoning, development and maintenance of private property in Denver. We're working hard to make Denver a great place to live, work and play! Visit DenverGov.org/CPD, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @DenverCPD.

The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE), Denver’s nationally-accredited public health agency, empowers Denver’s communities to live better, longer. The divisions of DDPHE are: Animal Protection, Community Health, Environmental Quality, Office of Sustainability, Office of the Medical Examiner and Public Health Inspections. In partnership with Denver Public Health, DDPHE provides quality public health services to the City and County of Denver. For more information about DDPHE, visit DenverGov.org/DPHE or follow us at @DDPHE.