EnvironmentHot Sheet

Denver panel grows flexible on ‘green roof’ rules

Author: Adam McCoy - May 8, 2018 - Updated: May 8, 2018

A green roof on an urban building. (Maxvis via iStock)

The Denver task force probing how exactly to enact the city’s new “green roof” rule wants to build into the new rule some flexibility when it comes to compliance.

That report’s according to Denverite, which noted the city panel has drafted new, expanded green roof ordinance compliance guidelines. In those guidelines, no green roof at all is reportedly an option.

The green roof initiative was approved by voters in November with nearly 55 percent of the vote. The ordinance requires that newly-built buildings larger than 25,000 square feet dedicate a portion of their rooftops to vegetation or solar panels.

The green roofs are intended to help reduce Denver’s urban heat island effect. The city ranks third in the nation for urban heat island effect.

As Denverite reports, the portion of the rooftop that needs to be devoted to green space or solar panels under the committee’s proposal is broken down as:

  • 10 percent of the roof area, times the number of floors, with a cap of 60 percent coverage, for new buildings.
  • 2 percent of the roof area, times the number of floors, with a cap at 18 percent coverage, for old buildings larger than 50,000 square feet.

For example a new three-story building would need to cover 30 percent of its roof in green space. There are other compliance options including purchasing an off-site green space at a proposed rate of $17 per square feet.

The city formed the 24-member Green Roofs Review Task Force earlier this year. It was tasked with determining how to enact the rules of the ordinance and whether those rules needs to be adjusted.

At least one city official bemoaned that the city would have to convene a committee to vet the implications and logistics of the green roof ordinance.

The Denver City Council can modify or repeal the green roof ordinance six months after it was approved, but that would require a two-thirds majority vote. The panel is expected to have eight meetings total and then provide its first briefing to the City Council this spring.

Meanwhile, “Next with Kyle Clark” at 9News reports that the green roof initiative hasn’t resulted in a single new green roof.

Reports Next:

What it has done is basically freeze construction and replacement of the large building roofs covered by the new green mandate. Businesses are in a holding pattern while the city scrambles to build a workable plan to implement the idea approved by voters.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.