The Denver Green Roof Initiative Would Require Gardens In The Sky

Would you like to see more of this? What about making developers build more of this?

A small group of environmentally minded Denver residents want to place an initiative on the November ballot to require buildings above a certain size to turn a portion of their rooftops into gardens.

It’s modeled after a similar requirement in Toronto that’s been in place since 2010 and has been expanded to include more building types.

Brandon Rietheimer, an organizer with the Denver Green Roof Initiative, said green roofs have been shown to reduce urban heat islands and improve stormwater management. They also insulate roofs and help buildings be more energy efficient.

Denver has the third most intense heat island effect of major American cities, with the average difference between urban and rural areas over a 10 year period running at almost 5 degrees. Only Las Vegas and Albuquerque are worse.

A self-employed maker and seller of lapel pins, Rietheimer said he also wants to show that citizens can make a difference on environmental issues at the local level.

The proposed initiative would require that buildings 25,000 square feet or larger devote a certain percentage of their rooftop to gardens and solar panels. The larger the building, the more of the roof would be set aside. Buildings between 25,000 and 49,999 square foot would have to set aside 20 percent of the rooftop, buildings 50,000 to 99,999 square feet would have to set aside 30 percent and so on up to 60 percent for buildings 200,000 square feet and larger.

The requirement would only apply to new construction and to major additions and roof replacements. Rietheimer said proponents aren’t trying to put a major financial burden on the owners of existing buildings, which may not be built to support the extra weight on their roofs.

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