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Energy Program

The Green Roof Ordinance became the Green Buildings Ordinance.  When existing buildings over 25,000 square feet replace their roof, they must install a cool roof and select one of the Green Buildings Ordinance compliance options.  The Energy Program is one compliance option.  Participants have up to 5 years to comply after enrolling in the Energy Program.  

The Energy Program includes flexible energy efficiency and renewable energy options and allows a building owner to take advantage of recent energy improvement projects. The Energy Program will help building owners retain and attract tenants to healthy buildings, lower energy expenses, improve net operating income (NOI), and increase building valuation. 

For additional details on the Energy Program and the history behind the Green Buildings Ordinance, see the dropdowns below.

The benefits of the energy efficiency and renewable energy compliance options in the Energy Program Include:

Building Owner/Manager Benefits

  • Retain and attract tenants
  • Lower energy expenses
  • Improve net operating income (NOI)
  • Avoid increased costs from run-to-fail replacements
  • Comply early so if hail hits, you can replace your roof with no additional requirements

= Increased building valuation

Tenant Benefits

  • Healthy, productive employees through lower CO
  • Happy employees due to natural daylight
  • Reduce allergies via better air quality
  • Better thermal Comfort

The original citizen-led Green Roof Ordinance became Denver’s Green Buildings Ordinance that provides flexible compliance options while honoring the original vote.   Denver’s Green Buildings Ordinance requires all existing buildings to install a cool roof at roof replacement as well as choose one of the five compliance paths.  The Energy Program under Energize Denver is one compliance path of the Green Buildings Ordinance for existing buildings.  

3 green arrows

Green Roof to Green Buildings
Green Building Ordinance: Existing Buildings
Energy Program Details

Nov 7, 2017 – Citizen-led Green Roof Initiative Passes

Jan-Jun, 2018 – Task Force works and reaches consensus

Oct 29, 2018 Green Buildings Ordinance passes

Install Cool Roof
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Compliance Options

  • Green Roof/Space
  • Pay for Offsite Green
  • Solar
  • Certification
  • Energy Program
Within 5 years:
  • ENERGY STAR Score 85 or higher
  • Energy Improvement 10-15%
  • EUI + Offsite Solar
  • Solar
  • Certification

 

Please see the summary presentation detailing the Energy Program for additional information. You can also read the final Green Buildings Ordinance  and the Rules and Regulations.


Green Buildings Ordinance Exemptions

The Green Buildings Ordinance does NOT apply to parking structures, temporary buildings, air-supported structures, greenhouses, single-family homes, duplexes, or dwelling units constructed in a group of three or more attached units, where each unit extends from foundation to roof and is not more than 3 stories above grade plane. 

Partial Green Buildings Ordinance Exemptions for Residential Buildings

Residential buildings 25,000 square feet or larger that meet the following criteria must meet the ordinance's "cool roof" requirement but are exempt from having to choose a compliance option:

It is an EXISTING residential building 5 stories or less OR less than 62.5 feet in height.

Summary of Existing Building Compliance Options under the Green Buildings Ordinance

The figure below shows the Green Buildings Ordinance compliance options for existing buildings.  For additional details go to www.denvergov.org/greenroofs.  
 

infographic explaining complinace options for existing buildings

When a building owner enrolls a building in the Energy Program they have up to 5 years from June 1st following their enrollment date to demonstrate they have achieved one of the following compliance options, illustrated in the figure below.  Enrolling in the Energy Program obligates a building to maintain annual compliance with one of the options for 20 years or through one roof replacement, whichever is longer.  

infographic explaining energy program compliance options for exisitng buildings

Details on each option:

  • ENERGY STAR score of 85 or higher
    • The score must be maintained annually
  • EUI Improvement (annual weather normalized site energy use intensity, EUI) of:
    • Buildings 25,000 – 49,999 gross floor area in square feet (GSF)
      • 10% annual EUI improvement below baseline year
    • Buildings 50,000 GSF or larger
      • 15% annual EUI improvement below baseline year
    • Baseline year is, by default, the year prior to enrollment.  However, baseline year may be selected up to five years prior to enrollment 
    • For buildings with manufacturing use types, the owner may apply to use energy consumption per items produced or similar appropriate metric in place of EUI 
  • Onsite solar or other renewable equivalent to your choice of:
    • 5% of the floor area
    • 42% of the total roof area
    • 100% of the annual building electricity use
  • Offsite solar purchased with the following stipulations:
    • Purchased to supply 100% of the annual building electricity use
    • A minimum of a 5-year contract, renewed for the term of the Energy Program
    • If electricity consumption rises over time, the owner must contract for additional renewable capacity to supply at least 90% of the annual building electricity use
  • Building Certification
    • LEED BD&C and/or O&M Certification, Silver level or higher certification
    • Enterprise Green Communities certification
    • National Green Building Standard ICC/ASHRAE 700 Silver level or higher certification
    • Equivalent green building certification approved by the building official
  • EUI improvement + offsite solar
    • 25,000 – 49,999 GSF buildings:
      • Invest in off-site solar equivalent to 10% of the energy used in the building with a minimum 5-year contract, and
      • 5% annual EUI improvement below baseline year
    • 50,000 GSF or larger: invest in
      • Invest in off-site solar equivalent to 15% of the energy used in the building with a minimum 5-year contract, and
      • 7.5% annual EUI improvement below baseline year 
    • Offsite solar contracts must be renewed for the term of the Energy Program

Further details and specifications are available in the Green Buildings Ordinance Rules and Regulations.  All data submitted as part of the Energy Program will be made public as the program is an opt-in compliance path.

Look-up your building on the Energize Denver Benchmarking Map to see if your building already complies with the Energy Program.  Your building already complies if:

  • It has an Energy Star Score of 85 or greater
  • The annual weather adjusted Energy Use Intensity (EUI) has already improved by 10% or 15% (as required for your size building) compared to previous reporting years.  

still image of interactive Energize Denver Benchmarking Map

Building owners and managers can enroll a building in the Energy Program early or at time of roof replacement, see below for more information on each. 

Early Enrollment

To enroll early in the Energy Program, you simply need to complete the online form.  You can submit your early enrollment Energy Program Form online here.

Enroll before it's time for a roof replacement so that your buildings can:

  • Get ongoing credit for energy-efficient improvements made before it’s time for a roof replacement.
  • Choose a "baseline year" from the last five years.
  • It is not necessary to re-enroll at roof replacement if the building owner has already early enrolled in the Energy Program. 
  • Enrollment applies to a building for 20 years or through one roof replacement, whichever is longer. 

Enrollment at Roof Replacement 

To enroll in the Energy Program at time of roof replacement, you need to complete the following steps.   

  1. Green Buildings Declaration Form. Download the existing buildings declaration form for your project.
  2. Review the submittal requirements for the green buildings ordinance detailed above.
  3. Save all files as PDFs and use this file naming convention: DocumentName_Address_Date.pdf. Make sure documents prepared by a licensed architect, engineer, or surveyor have a valid electronic signature (PDF) visible on the file's first page and a seal on each sheet.
  4. Email to PlanReview@denvergov.org. For large attachments, email a link to Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. where documents are available for staff to download without a password.

Annual reporting is required for each compliance option in the Energy Program via the building’s annual energy benchmarking report sent to the City via ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. 

For additional assistance on reporting for Benchmarking including: details, Help Center contacts, and specifications on the ordinance, please proceed to the Benchmarking Ordinance page. 

Annual Reporting Exemptions

If you believe you qualify for an Energy Program annual reporting exemption, please complete the online form by June 1st.  Please include a detailed description of why your building qualifies for the Energy Program exemption.  Most exemptions are for that year specifically and you will need to resume reporting the following year.  Energy Program annual reporting exemptions are further detailed in the table below.   

Energy Program Annual Reporting Exemptions 

A demolition permit has been issued for the entire building, and demolition work has commenced on or before the date the benchmarking report is due.  Demolition also terminates the building from the Energy Program.  

I am unable to obtain data from my third-party natural gas provider because the building was purchased in the current year, and the owners and natural gas provider have not responded or have refused to provide the data for the rest of the year. 

In addition, a year where the building applied for this exception and received it cannot be specified as the baseline year for the Energy Program.

The building had an average physical occupancy of less than 60 (sixty) percent throughout the calendar year for which the Energy Program is required. 

The building is presently experiencing qualifying financial distress, as defined by any of the following: (1) the building is the subject of a qualified tax lien sale or public auction due to property tax arrearages; (2) the building is controlled by a court-appointed receiver; or (3) the building has been acquired by a deed in lieu of foreclosure. 

The building was not occupied, due to renovation, for all twelve (12) months of the calendar year for which the Energy Program is required.



If you believe you qualify for an exemption for reporting for the previous year, please complete the exemption form by June 1st and provide a detailed explanation of the request.  Note that while the form is used for Benchmarking and the Energy Program, only the exemptions above apply to the Energy Program. 

Energize Denver Exemption Form

The timeline for the Energy Program below shows the baseline, enrollment, and compliance process. 

infographic of the energy program timeline 

Enrollment in the Energy Program allows a choice of a "baseline year" from the last five years and credit for energy-efficient improvements made before it's time for a roof replacement.  The baseline year is the calendar year energy use used to calculate energy savings for the Energy Program. 

The default is the prior year and can be specified up to five years prior to enrollment to capture recent energy savings.  Data for the baseline year is submitted to the City via ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. 

Specifying the baseline year (not the default prior year) is like submitting Energize Denver Benchmarking Ordinance data. 

Additional detail and help on using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and Benchmarking is available on the Energize Denver Benchmarking Ordinance page.  Under the ‘Benchmarking Help’ drop-down, there are help videos and detail on using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.  Baseline year reports will have to meet all the same data quality standards as other benchmarking reports.

 

Baseline for Manufacturing & Agriculture Process

For buildings with manufacturing or agriculture process use types, the owner may apply to use energy consumption per items produced or similar appropriate metric in place of EUI.    

 

Baseline Update for Major Shift in Building Use

An owner may petition for a change in their baseline if they can demonstrate a major shift in building use type. An engineer’s report estimating what the new adjusted baseline should be based on the new building use type will be required.

Buildings within the Energy Program have 2 years to come back into compliance if an annual benchmarking report shows the building has fallen out of compliance.  Building owners have a few flexible options to bring a building back into compliance:

  1. Make operational or systems improvements to bring the building back into compliance.
  2. A building is not required to take the same compliance path each year.
    • For example, for a building over 50,000 square feet, if the first year of compliance the building demonstrates an EUI savings is 15%, the second year they can comply via an ENERGY STAR Score over 85, and in the 10th year they could comply via an EUI savings of 7.5% plus buy 15% of energy from off-site solar.
  3.  For a building that misses the initial 5-year deadline to demonstrate energy savings on the EUI path, there is the option to submit proof of completion of an energy efficiency project using a report from an energy efficiency contractor showing they have made energy efficiency improvements to the building with an estimated energy savings equal to the required energy savings. In this case, the benchmarking report submitted 2 years later must demonstrate achievement of the estimated savings.

If the building is not brought back into compliance by the end of 2 years, there is a fine for non-compliance.  The fine is calculated for degree of non-compliance up to fifty dollars ($50.00) times sixty percent (60%) of the total roof area, that will be a payment into the Green Building Fund. 

For questions on the Energy Program, please contact us!

Call 720-865-5451 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., or email EnergyProgram@denvergov.org for answers to questions related to the Energy Program. We have an approximate 48-hour response time to voicemails and emails.