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Denver’s Green Buildings Ordinance Promotes Healthier Buildings

Data from the first annual review reveals positive impact

The City and County of Denver has released the first annual report for the Green Buildings Ordinance (GBO). The GBO, which took effect November 2, 2018, allows building owners flexibility and choice, while collectively raising the bar on building performance and contribution to Denver’s long-term viability and health.

Approximately 65 construction projects complied with the GBO in its first full year of implementation. These projects will collectively use less energy, add more green space, and contribute less to the urban heat island effect, among other health and environmental benefits, than they would have without this crucial law.

“Developers, property owners, and project teams are participating in important conversations around the value of higher-performing buildings, both to the environment and for the people who live and work in as well as visit these places,” said Laura E. Aldrete, executive director, Denver Community Planning and Development. “Continuing these conversations will be central to the development community’s ability to meet mandatory building codes designed to help Denver achieve its broader climate action goals.”

A defining piece of the GBO is its requirement for all new roofs over a certain size to be “cool roofs,” which help mitigate the urban heat island effect. Since the city’s adoption of the GBO, virtually all projects subject to the ordinance have been able to include a cool roof. Additionally, the annual report documents that while project teams are pursuing almost all of the allowed green building options under the new law, the most frequently selected options involve greater energy efficiency, which helps further Denver’s emission reduction goals. Several other project teams are adding green space to new and existing buildings, providing recreation, habitat, and enhanced streetscapes while also mitigating the urban heat island effect and improving storm water management. 

“The Green Buildings Ordinance has accelerated the citywide conversation about the role of our built environment in combating climate change,” said Grace Rink, executive director, Denver Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency. “New codes and programs, including the Denver Green Code adopted in December 2019, will build upon this foundation to work toward our community’s climate action goals.”

“This report shows that the hard work of the Green Buildings Task Force led to workable solutions for residents, businesses, and government, while continuing to advance our climate change goals,” said Councilman Jolon Clark. “I look forward to seeing many more buildings go green in Denver in the years to come.”

Learn more about the Green Buildings Ordinance and read the full report at denvergov.org/greenroofs.