Denver passes new green roof ordinance

Some regulations take effect Nov. 2
Denver's new green roof ordinance could increase green space in the city by up to 3.5 million square feet by 2050. (Photo: JF123, Dreamstime)

Following a lengthy draft process involving multiple stakeholders, the Denver City Council met on Tuesday and unanimously passed a green roof ordinance to replace the November 2017 initiative approved by voters.

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The final ordinance provides more flexibility for building owners and developers to meet the ordinance’s requirements or pay into a green building fund that will be used to acquire and maintain other green spaces.

“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,” Jill Jennings Golich, interim executive director of Community Planning and Development (CPD), said in a statement.

The ordinance is expected to increase the amount of green space in Denver by more than 3.5 million square feet by 2050. The council also expects the ordinance will help property owners reduce greenhouse gas emissions for between 20% and 90% less than the original initiative.

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“The new ordinance looks at development holistically and has an array of green space, energy conservation, renewable energy and other great options to choose from,” Bob McDonald, executive director of Denver’s Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) and the city’s public health administrator, said in the statement. “We are excited by what this means for Denver.”

Under the ordinance:

  • As of Nov. 2, new buildings and additions over 25,000 will have to submit plans that show how they will meet the ordinance’s requirements before permits will be issued.
  • Projects that have already submitted a formal site development plan or building permit application under the old ordinance may proceed or submit revised drawings under the new ordinance.
  • Most buildings will be required to incorporate a combination of cool roof and a green space (including a green space at ground level), solar or other renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements, third-party building certifications, enrolling in an energy program, or paying into the green building fund.
  • Buildings that aren’t required to have green roofs include: single-family homes and duplexes; row homes of three stories or less; residential buildings with 25,000 square feet that are five stories or fewer; and temporary structures or greenhouses.

Although the final ordinance was accepted on Tuesday, CPD and DDPHE are still accepting comments regarding implantation. Comments should be submitted by Nov. 30 by emailing [email protected]. A draft will be released at the end of December, and final rules are expected to be adopted in February.

CPD is hosting an open house to discuss the new ordinance on at 4:30 on Nov. 15 in the Denver Post Building Auditorium.

Danielle Andrus

Danielle Andrus was previously the managing editor for Colorado Builder, and is currently Editor for the Journal of Financial Planning.

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