Denver City Council to hear proposed changes to Green Roof Initiative

Posted at 7:03 AM, Jun 25, 2018

DENVER — A Denver City Council committee will hear a proposal on Monday to change the green roof ordinance voters approved in November.

The proposal was put together by a task force that was created to examine how the ordinance should be implemented.

Denver is not the first city to pass a green roof initiative, but it is the first to require current buildings to comply. It was the task force’s job to figure out how to make everything work. The group, which comprises local leaders, engineers, green roof advocates, building owners and more, met nine times since January to work through all of the details. 

Under the current rules, the amount of roof that need to be covered is based on the building’s overall square footage. However, according to the proposal, these coverage requirements disproportionately burden large, single-story buildings. They also make the green roof solar combination options confusing to understand.

The new proposal would base the amount of green space a roof is required to have on how tall the building is. This would take away some of the burden from shorter buildings and place it on taller buildings.

For each story, the building would be required to have 10 percent of its roof comply with the new standards. That number would cap at 60 percent, however.

The task force says this change would boost the total amount of space covered by green roofs by about 14.5 percent or 3.5 million square feet by 2050 if building owners choose the green roof option.

Meanwhile, all new buildings with 25,000 square feet of space except single-family homes must install cool roofs to decrease the "heat island" effect they have on the city.

The task force spoke with current building owners and determined that many of the existing buildings cannot support the load of a green roof. To make up for that, the proposal decided to give building owners the option of choosing to install either a green roof or solar panels when the roof is replaced. The solar panels are lighter and could be supported by existing buildings.

The other major change the task force wants to implement is where the green space must go. Under the proposal, the green space doesn’t necessarily have to be placed on the roof. It can be located on the terraces, podiums, green walls or on the ground level of the property. The building owner can also make a financial contribution to an off-site green space at the cost of $25 per square foot.

The goal with all of these proposals is to help building owners find a way to comply with the law without breaking the bank.

The city council committee is set to hear the proposal at its Monday meeting. A two-thirds majority would need to agree to it in order for the changes to go into effect. Read more about the proposed changes here.