The Denver Green Buildings Ordinance is a building code that requires buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to dedicate a section of their roofs to solar or rooftop gardens, with portions ranging from 20 to 60 percent, depending on the building size. Denver voters passed the initiative on Nov. 7, 2017 over the objections of some in the real estate and development industry. Since then, city leaders and a task force have made recommendations to implement the initiative, which affects the construction and replacement of all roofs 25,000 square feet and larger.
A White Paper was commissioned by CEDaR to reflect on the final Denver Green Roofs Ordinance approved by the Denver City Council by synthesizing research materials and participant comments from two CEDaR workshops. The objective was to review the evolution of the Denver Green Roof Ordinance, from its origin to its final form, the Green Building Ordinance, and draw conclusions from this story that can inform future green roof policies. Additionally, Denver’s experience was compared with San Francisco, Toronto, Chicago and Washington, D.C. The final section examined the effectiveness of green roofs in Colorado, as questions about effectiveness were one of the biggest concerns brought up during the initial vote.
Scott Reca and Alec Sabatini, White Paper authors and CEDaR interns, worked with the Urban Land Institute (ULI), the oldest and largest network of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts in the world, to organize a Nov. 7 workshop about the Denver Green Buildings Ordinance, entitled "Denver's Green Roof Initiative: What does it mean for your business?" They also created a summary handout that was distributed to all event attendees. Keynote speakers included Kenneth Sanchez, chief sustainability officer and senior vice president of facilities management for the Javits Center; Rebecca Marshall, sustainability manager for the Javits Center; and Katrina Managan, energy efficient buildings lead for the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment.
This paper also draws on the workshop, "Reassessing the Denver Green Roofs Ordinance: Where Does It Take Us?" held Oct.19, 2018 at the CEDaR's Community Building Colorado-Style conference and organized by Sabatini and Reca. Panelists included Jennifer Bousselot, Colorado State University Green Roof Task Force Member ; Andy Creath, owner, Green Roofs of Colorado/Green Roof Task Force Member; Sabatini; and Reca.
This work was completed through a CEDaR internship. Reca and Sabatini have sinced graduated CU Boulder respectively through the environmental studies (ENVS) undergraduate program and the masters of the environment (MENV) graduate program.