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Denver's Green Roof Ordinance

Denver pursues a revised Green Buildings Ordinance

Over the past 10 months, Denver has worked with a task force of individuals from academia, industry, government, the public, and the creators of the original green roof ordinance to consider practical improvements to the ordinance. A draft of the new "Green Buildings Ordinance" is now available and is under review by Denver City Council. 

Keep reading for more detail on the task force and new ordinance.

The Proposed Green Buildings Legislation

The Green Roofs Review Task Force's mission was to recommend modifications, clarifications, and improvements to the Green Roof Ordinance through a collaborative, consensus-based process that honored the vote and the benefits that the ordinance would have achieved. The task force met nine times from January 19, 2018, through June 7, 2018, and circulated a draft proposal for public input during May 2018. In their final meeting, members reached consensus on a proposal they believe takes the ordinance in the right direction for Denver. 

Based on the Task Force's consensus recommendations, the new ordinance draft looks at development holistically and recognizes that the best, long-term approach to building a more sustainable Denver is to increase use of solar and other renewable energies, foster the design of far more energy-efficient buildings, increase green space, improve water and storm water management, and embrace national standards of green building, like LEED and Enterprise Green Communities Certification. Compared to the original ordinance, the new Green Buildings Ordinance may create up to 3.5 million more square feet of green space by 2050 while allowing for far greater flexibility in building design, ultimately lowering the overall cost of meeting these requirements by about 20%.

Download the draft ordinance (PDF)

Download the Task Force's proposal (PDF) | Download a summary (PDF)

All City Council meetings on the Green Roof Ordinance take place in Room 391 of the City and County Building at 1437 Bannock St., Denver, CO 80202. Any changes to the initiative will require the support of two-thirds of City Council, or nine votes.


The Existing Green Roofs Ordinance

On November 7, 2017, Denver voters passed the Green Roof Ordinance ("Initiative 300"), which went into effect on January 1, 2018, and currently remains in effect for all of the following: (1) construction projects that submitted a site development plan on or after January 1, 2018, (2) any new building with a gross floor area of 25,000 square feet or more or a building addition that causes the building to become 25,000 square feet or more, and (3) any existing building over 25,000 square feet that seeks a roof replacement.

Administrative Rules & Regulations

On April 30, 2018, Denver adopted rules and regulations for implementing the green roofs ordinance. These rules should be read in conjunction with the ordinance. Adoption of the rules followed a public input process held earlier in 2018.

Permitting guidance under the current Green Roofs Ordinance

Buildings over 25,000 square feet will not be able to obtain roof permits online after January 1. These roofs, whether believed to be eligible for an exemption or not, must complete and submit the Green Roof Declaration Form linked below in order for staff to verify exemptions before issuing a roof permit. 

Submittal Requirements

Any roof project that will include a green roof component or is requesting an exemption or a variance must fill out the Green Roof Declaration Form below.

  • New buildings, additions, remodels, and tenant-finish projects will also need to download the Commercial Building Permit Guide (contains additional non-green-roof forms and instructions for these projects)
  • For any project that will include a green roof, request a variance, or request an exemption on the basis of major structural alterations being necessary, make a Log In appointment to submit the above information. 

Fees

Green roofs are subject to the same plan review and permit fee schedules as all other building permits. View building permit fees.

Per the terms of the green roof ordinance, projects over 25,000 square feet that require a site development plan review or "SDP" (new commercial construction, major additions, new construction of three or more residential units, and some tenant-finish/remodel projects undergoing change of occupancy) must have submitted a complete, formal phase site plan and paid the associated review fees by December 29, 2017, in order to be exempt from the green roof requirement.

A concept plan is not sufficient for exemption from the green roof requirement

Please note that the SDP review process begins with a required concept phase, which entails submitting a conceptual site plan and application and attending a concept meeting to determine feasibility of the project, among other items. The concept site plan is not as detailed as the formal site plan submitted later in the process, has no review fees associated with its review, and is not sufficient to exempt a project from the green roof requirement. 

Changing your roof contractor after January 1

If you received a valid roof permit by December 31 and need to change the contractor listed on the permit, you may obtain a new permit without having to meet the green roof requirement.

Extensions of issued roof permits

For all permits, including roof permits, work must commence within 60 days from the date of permit issuance. You can request an extension of a roof permit if your construction schedule will extend the roof work out beyond 60 days. Extensions of valid permits will not require a project to meet the green roof standards.

Licensed roofing contractors in Denver will need to obtain licenses in lawn irrigation and green roof installation if they intend to build green roofs after January 2, 2018. These new license types help ensure a high standard of green roof construction by individuals who are skilled in selecting vegetation appropriate for our climate and equipping it for successful growth and maintenance going forward, long after a green roof installation is complete.

The new lawn irrigation and green roof license types are available for any entity having the appropriate experience who wishes to be part of a green roof design and installation team.

Please be aware these licenses are designed for people with irrigation and landscaping experience and do not explicitly cover roofing work, so a licensed roofer or building contractor will still need to be part of a green roof project.

At this time, only the following projects are exempt from the green roof requirement:

  • Projects that have submitted a complete building permit application or complete site plan application prior to January 1, 2018,
  • Residential buildings that are 4 stories or less or have a height of 50 feet or less (whichever is greater), and
  • Commercial greenhouses at grade, temporary structures, and air-supported structures.

The green roof ordinance allows applicants who are unable to provide the required green roof coverage to make a cash-in-lieu payment, contingent on approval of an exemption request made to the Planning Board. The ordinance (PDF) specifies the amount and terms of the payment. Your project must be logged in for plan review before you can request a variance.


Green Roofs Review Task Force

All Green Roofs Review Task Force meetings were open to the public. View a list of the task force's members (PDF).

Meeting archive:

Friday, Jan. 19, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (Download meeting summary)
Wednesday, Feb. 7, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. (Download meeting summary and slide deck)
Wednesday, Feb. 14, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Download meeting summary and slide deck)
Thursday, March 1, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Download meeting summary)
Wednesday, March 21, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. (Download meeting summary)
Friday, April 6, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. (Download meeting summary and slide deck)
Wednesday, May 2, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. (Download meeting summary and slide deck)
Wednesday, May 23, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. (Download meeting summary)
Thursday, June 7, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. (Download meeting summary)

From May 3 - June 3, 2018, the Green Roofs Review Task Force circulated an initial draft proposal for modifying the ordinance. The proposal and its supporting documentation were available for public review and comment through noon on June 3. All comments received were sent to the task force for review before their final meeting.

There were also two public briefings and input sessions held at the Webb Building (201 W. Colfax Ave.):

  • Friday, May 11, 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. in room 4.G.2
  • Monday, May 14, 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. in room 1.B.6

 

City Council Green Roofs Meetings

Upcoming: 

Council Chambers
City and County Building 
1437 Bannock St., Denver, CO 80202

All meetings are open to the public.

Past:

Special Issues Committee 

Download presentation materials from the committee meeting:

Meetings to review task force progress

Join the Technical Advisory Group

If you are interested in joining the Green Roof Technical Advisory Group, send a resume to barry.burch@denvergov.org

To learn more about the function and qualifications of this committee, please visit Denver's Boards & Commissions webpage and scroll down to "Green Roof Technical Advisory Group."