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Denver's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has some business owners concerned

Greenhouse gas emissions
Posted at 3:37 PM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 19:49:13-05

DENVER — Rockmount Ranch Wear, which is known for its Western snap shirts, has called its downtown Denver building home for decades. Because of that, the five-floor, 30,000-square foot building has required its fair share of improvements.

"Hundreds, okay, we've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars upgrading this building," said Steve Weil, president and chief creative officer of Rockmount Ranch Wear Manufacturing Company.

Weil says in recent years, he's added solar panels to the roof, LED lighting inside, and even tightened windows and doors.

"We occupy this entire building, and we have done everything humanly possible to make it energy sustainable," he said.

This is why Weil is concerned about Denver's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030. It's a plan he says he isn't on board with.

However, it's a plan Denver is moving forward with. Katrina Managan, who works with Denver's Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency, says commercial and multifamily buildings are responsible for nearly half of greenhouse gas emissions in Denver.

"What we're trying to accomplish is really making improvements in health and equity," Managan said.

Managan says the proposed plan will require every building type to cut energy usage depending on its square footage.

"The biggest, the most common building types in Denver are offices, apartments and condos, hotels, retail warehouses. Each of those, and all the smaller, less common building types, have their own target energy use intensity for 2030 that they will have to reach," she said.

The goal is to move toward electric systems and away from natural gas ones. Weil says he replaced his boiler with a natural gas one in 2005. In a few years, that will no longer be allowed. Weil says he thinks changes like that will become too costly.

"We're really looking to move towards electric space and water heating systems with heat pumps, again, where that makes sense economically, because you get a better outcome for the same cost," said Managan.

So, what's next? In January, Denver will have a hearing to approve rules for this plan. In March, letters will go out to building owners and managers informing them of the changes they need to make to meet the goals.