What Is Denver’s Green Roof Initiative?

The Denver Green Roof Initiative requires new buildings and existing buildings undergoing roof replacements in Denver to cover a percentage of a building into green space, solar panels, or a combination of the two. This law is designed for buildings over 25,000 sq. ft., that need permits after Jan. 1st, 2018.

In November 2017, voters passed the Denver Green Roof Initiative in order to reduce Denver’s Urban Heat Island. The Urban Heat Island effect (UHI) is when urban areas become hotter than the surrounding rural areas due to the large amount of impermeable surfaces, such as concrete parking lots and black rooftops.

Denver is the 3rd highest in UHI; meaning Denver is much hotter (about 23 degrees hotter) in summer than its surrounding rural areas. With only 50% of Denver homes having AC, hotter weather can result in heat-related illness or death.

What Should You Know About Denver’s Green Roof Initiative?

Initially, The Denver Green Roof Initiative was not well received in the development community, because of the cost and the additional hoops to jump through to build in Denver.

To mitigate this, a Green Roof Task Force Committee was formed with local stakeholders. After six months, they reached a consensus-- creating a Green Building Proposal for Denver’s City Council to vote on.  

Denver’s City Council is in the process of voting on accepting the new Denver Green Building Initiative into law. The City is creating new rules, regulations, definitions, permitting forms and hiring additional City staff. The decision to finalize this proposal should occur in fall 2018.

The Denver Green Roof Initiative Vs. The Denver Green Building Proposal

The Denver Green Roof Initiative uses solar panels and green roofs to solve environmental problems. The Green Roof Task Force Committee changed the Initiative to create the Denver Green Building Proposal. This proposal address' the same issues but allow more options for developers. Below we discuss the pros and cons of the new Denver Green Building Proposal over the initial Green Roof Initiative.

What Are The Pros of The New Denver Green Building Proposal?

More Choices

There are 5-8 options to choose from. More flexibility for developers and lower costs.

Prioritizes Affordable Housing Projects

Supports affordable housing projects, cash in lieu prioritizes low-income, affordable housing projects

It Applies To Everyone

The first version had lots of exemptions. Now, every developer and every building within the criteria has to take action.

Future Incentives

The city of Denver has the opportunity to provide incentives. Other cities like Washington, DC, Chicago, Toronto, and Seattle have incentives to help developers and homeowners incorporate green design. It’s likely that Denver will trend this way in the future.

What Are The Cons of The New Denver Green Building Proposal?

Complicated Permits

Gone are the days of easy permitting-- if there ever were any. More options makes this process more complex, and there are repercussions if you get it wrong. The permitting process will take longer, and the city will have to navigate eight options forms, criteria, and regulations.

Additional Work for Architects & Developers

Developers and architects are going to have plenty of additional considerations to review, and hiring an expert will save you time.