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The Denver Green Roof Initiative: What You Need to Know

UPDATE: An updated version of the initiative was passed by Denver City Council on November 2, 2018 and the ordinance is now in effect. Read the latest on the initiative under its new name, the Denver Green Building Ordinance. 

Publish Date: August 29th, 2018


In 2017, the citizens of Denver voted “Yes” on the Denver Green Roof Initiative 54% to 46%. This ordinance now requires buildings over 25,000 square feet to cover a percentage of their roof with a green roof or solar panels. The goals of the ordinance are to help reduce energy consumption, reduce the urban heat island effect, manage storm water, increase urban biodiversity for pollinators, and improve Denver’s air quality.

Does the Denver Green Roof Initiative apply to my building?

Denver’s green roof ordinance applies to commercial buildings over 25,000 square feet that are new builds or re-roofing projects, or any building additions that result in a building over the square footage threshold. Exemptions have been made for projects that completed permit or site plan applications before January 1, 2018 and residential buildings that are less than 4 stories or 50 feet. Commercial greenhouses at grade, temporary structures, and air-supported structures are also exempt.

Should I install a green roof or solar to meet these requirements?

The details of the final ordinance are still being worked out, but the current ordinance gives building owners the option to install a green roof, a green roof and solar combo, or to cover the entire usable roof space with solar.

There are many benefits to green roofs, but solar provides additional economic benefits to the building owner. Solar frequently costs less per square foot than a green roof and has the added advantage of reducing your electric bill. Solar also generates tax benefits amounting to 50% or more of the cost of the system and will give you a return on investment. Another added benefit is that solar represents a significant opportunity to increase your property’s value and help differentiate your business. Consumers and tenants show a strong preference for businesses that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.

Can I do the bare minimum to meet these requirements?

Denver’s Green Roof Initiative only requires a percentage of the available roof space to be used for a green roof or solar, and the required percentage is based on your building’s gross floor area. You can choose to install the smallest solar system that meets the ordinance requirements, but then you’d be leaving money on the table. A commercial solar professional can help you determine the ideal solar system size based on your property’s electricity usage and available roof space in order to maximize your return on investment.

What are my next steps?

Namaste Solar has been carefully tracking the Denver Green Roof Initiative to stay on top of the detailed requirements and exemptions. Our team of solar professionals will make going solar easy for you while maximizing your ROI. Get started with a free consultation that includes a custom roof and site assessment, utility analysis, solar ROI report, and financing options for your project.



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