Denver launches updated ordinance to make city buildings more environmentally friendly

DENVER — Denver is about to get a lot greener.

On Oct. 30, the city of Denver launched a new and improved Green Buildings Ordinance, which updates the green roofs initiative that was initially approved by voters in November 2017.

This new ordinance will strengthen the environmental benefits of the original ordinance with flexible, cost-effective options that will apply to all buildings in Denver that are larger than 25,000 square feet.

The ordinance was approved by Denver City Council on Oct. 29.

“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 ordinance was created by a collaborative task force of people who represented proponents and opponents of the original green roofs initiative.

For 10 months, the group worked to create an innovative approach for green buildings that betters the original ordinance by achieving:

  • A greater urban heat island reduction by requiring simple and affordable “cool roofs” on all buildings subject to the ordinance (versus green roofs, which only cover part of the roof, have higher costs and have limited use)
  • Up to 3.5 million more square feet of green space by 2050, which can be provided on the roof or on the ground, for both residents and wildlife 
  • A similar reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but with a cost cut by 20-90 percent for property owners
  • Greater flexibility in building design and improved water and storm water management

CPD is hosting an open house on Nov. 15 to help the public learn more about the Green Buildings Ordinance. Developers, contractors, property owners and others are invited. The open house is scheduled at the Denver Post Building Auditorium, 101 W. Colfax Ave., from 4:30-6 p.m.

To learn more about the ordinance, click here.

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