The Latest Version of the Evolving Denver Green Roof Initiative

Sourced from Colorado Real Estate Journal

In November, Denver voters passed the Green Roof Initiative that requires buildings with more than 25,000 square feet to have a green roof or solar panels. Since January, varied stakeholders comprising the Green Roof Task Force Committee have been meeting to propose changes. They will then make a recommendation to City Council, who can make changes with a two-thirds vote (nine council members), starting at the end of this month.

While many developers opposed a green roof mandate, there are benefits to green roofs, and the new proposed initiative offers a lot more options. We break down how the new proposal can help and hurt developers versus the original ordinance.

How the New Proposal Helps Developers

More options. New construction would have eight options to choose from under the ordinance, instead of the initial two proposed. With these options, buildings can have LEED or Enterprise Green Communities certification, energy-efficiency programs or off-site solar. This allows more flexibility for developers. Many of the options don’t take up additional space, and we all know how valuable each square foot is in Denver’s economy. According to the committee’s cost analysis, the cost increase resulting from these options is lower than the initial proposal. However, their calculations only look at energy savings and do not take into account myriad benefits green roofs can offer.

Aids affordable housing projects. At one point, they were going to exclude affordable housing projects. As of now, they are not exempt. While this may be more costly up front, it can help these communities that need green spaces the most. The proposal dictates the cash in lieu fee money goes to affordable housing projects. Lower-income communities are more affected by climate change, and the locations of low-income neighborhoods usually experience more air and water pollution. Green spaces and solar energy are more attractive to potential occupants and can lower energy bills.

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