Denver Passes Ordinance Requiring Buildings to Reduce Emissions, Improve Energy Efficiency

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by | Dec 23, 2021

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The City of Denver recently approved an ordinance requiring all commercial and multifamily buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving energy efficiency, renewable energy and building electrification, a move that has been met with mixed feelings.

The City Council says the ordinance makes Denver the first to require the measures for all buildings. The ordinance will make a significant dent in buildings emissions, the city says, reducing them by nearly 80% by 2040. Buildings account for 49% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and Denver has a goal of reaching net zero energy by 2040.

The regulations were unanimously passed by the Denver City Council. They had no formal opposition and support from the local commercial real estate association, according to Axios Denver.

However, one property owner told Denver7 News that he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars improving the efficiency of his 30,000 square foot building, including a natural gas heating system in 2005, which will now need to be replaced. He believes changes may eventually get too costly.

“We occupy this entire building, and we have done everything humanly possible to make it energy sustainable,” Rockmount Ranch Wear Manufacturing Company’s Steve Weil told Denver7.

The city says it will provide support for building owners and managers, including incentives for electrification, support for buildings in communities with fewer resources and a virtual Energize Denver Resource Hub.

The ordinance requires buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to reach 30% energy savings by 2030 with interim goals for 2024 and 2027 to measure progress. The ordinance also requires gradual adoption of electric heating and cooling systems to replace gas powered systems when cost effective.

Additionally, the ordinance calls for buildings between 5,000 square feet and 25,000 square feet to install all LED lighting by 2030 or get at least 20% of its electricity from solar sources.

Other communities have taken on similar initiatives to improve energy efficiency.

In New York City a group of building owners, including large companies like Google and Barclays, are part of the NYC Carbon Challenge where they are investing in LEDs, solar panels and other technology. The hope of the program is to save more than $175 million in energy costs.

Las Vegas is using a digital twin to improve its carbon emissions and energy efficiency. That technology has been found to increase sustainability by 50% by cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The ordinance was based on recommendations from the Energize Denver Task Force. The city will hold a hearing in January to approve rules for the regulations.

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