Quantcast
Renewable Energy
Green roof of the Denver Environmental Protection Agency. Denver Green Roof Initiative

Denver Becomes Latest City to Require Green Roofs

Denver is the latest city to mandate rooftop gardens or solar installations on new, large buildings, joining San Francisco, New York, Paris, London and other cities around the world with similar green roof measures, the Associated Press reported.

The Colorado capital ranks third in the nation for highest heat island and eighth in the nation for worst ozone/particulate pollution, according to the Denver Green Roof Initiative, a grassroots group that advocated for the city's green roof ordinance, Initiative 300.


Although the official tally is not in, the ballot initiative had 54 percent approval as of Thursday, signaling that the measure is headed towards victory. The vote will be certified on Nov. 24.

Initiative 300 creates a new building code that requires green roofs or solar panels for most buildings 25,000 square feet or larger that are constructed after Jan. 1, 2018.

The Associated Press noted that the measure is more stringent than other green roof mandates, as it requires many existing buildings to be retrofitted with green roofs when the old roof wears out. Older buildings that cannot support the load of a green roof can get an exemption.

"These required building improvements would significantly reduce long term operating costs by lowering energy consumption and increasing the longevity of a roof," the Denver Green Roof Initiative stated on its campaign website. "A green roof lasts 2-3 times as long as a traditional roof because the waterproofing membrane is protected from damage by the elements and workers by covering it with a growing medium and plants."

The measure did not have an easy road to passage. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock opposed the initiative over worries that it could drive up the costs of construction projects. Also, several Denver businesses spent $250,000 in an advertising push against the plan.

Department of Community Planning and Development spokeswoman Andrea Burns told the Denver Post in March that the department would prefer to give architects and engineers "the flexibility to design a roofing system that works best for their needs and their budgets."

Following the vote, however, Burns conceded to CBS4 that "it will be a little bit of work in the next few weeks, but green roofs are already possible in Denver. It's just a matter of making those agreements that are part of Initiative 300 work with our system now. We're going to make this work for the people of Denver."

The Denver Green Roof Initiative admits that green roofs cost about $15 more per square feet than a traditional black roof but pointed out that the green roof will pay for itself in about six years.

"Even though the extra cost would be offset in as soon as 6.2 years, most developers choose not to incorporate them because they build the building then sell it," the group said. "They don't see those energy and storm-water savings. They don't save the money from roof longevity. Yet they are still able to sell the building for more money with these improvements!! We believe that the developers of Denver could be doing more to negate their footprint in our beautiful city. We believe green roofs are the answer."

The initiative was endorsed by several green builders and environmental groups.

"Initiative I-300 will contribute to improving Denver's air quality, increasing the energy efficiency of its buildings, mitigating the urban heat island effect, managing storm water runoff, and creating habitat for pollinators and other insects," said Lauren Petrie, Food & Water Watch's Rocky Mountain Region Director. "We are dedicated to a more sustainable future in Denver and believe that passing this green roof initiative will be a vehicle for asserting our human desire for cleaner air and water, and cooler urban temperatures.

The Denver Green Roof Initiative stressed in a Facebook post Friday that even though Initiative 300 passed, there are still "tremendous hurdles to overcome due to push back from those in power."

"This is a battle won against climate but the war doesn't stop here," the post stated. "We must all get active and fight for our values, because we are stronger together. Thanks again for the overwhelming support. The citizens of Denver have a healthier, more sustainable future because of YOU!"

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
San Cristóbal de las Casas, in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Tjeerd Wiersma from Amsterdam, The Netherlands / CC BY 2.0

How Coca-Cola and Climate Change Created a Public Health Crisis in a Mexican Town

A lack of drinking water and a surplus of Coca-Cola are causing a public health crisis in the Mexican town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Some neighborhoods in the town only get running water a few times a week, so residents turn to soda, drinking more than half a gallon a day on average.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Emilie Chen / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise

By Jason Bittel

The news coming out of East Africa's Virunga Mountains these days would have made the late (and legendary) conservationist Dian Fossey very happy. According to the most recent census, the mountain gorillas introduced to the world in Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey's book and the film about her work, have grown their ranks from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016. Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000. Believe it or not, this makes the mountain gorilla subspecies the only great apes known to be increasing in number.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Plastic trash isn't safe for kids, whether human or bear. Kevin Morgans Wildlife Photography

Even Polar Bear Cubs Can’t Escape Plastic Pollution

By Allison Guy

Plastic bags are often stamped with an all-caps warning: This bag is not a toy. Unfortunately, polar bear moms don't have much control over their kids' playthings.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights
Sea level rise is a natural consequence of the warming of our planet. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

We Can’t Hide From Global Warming’s Consequences

Over the past few months, heat records have broken worldwide.

In early July, the temperature in Ouargla, Algeria, reached 51.3°C (124.34°F), the highest ever recorded in Africa! Temperatures in the eastern and southwestern U.S. and southeastern Canada have also hit record highs. In Montreal, people sweltered under temperatures of 36.6°C (97.88°F), the highest ever recorded there, as well as record-breaking extreme midnight heat and humidity, an unpleasant experience shared by people in Ottawa. Dozens of people have died from heat-related causes in Quebec alone.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Stacey_newman / Getty Images

More Than a Third of Schools Tested Have ‘Elevated Levels’ of Lead in Drinking Water

A troubling new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that more than a third of the nation's schools that tested their water for lead found "elevated levels" of the neurotoxin. But despite heightened concern in recent years about lead in drinking water, more than 40 percent of schools surveyed conducted no lead testing in 2016.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Bill Pugliano / Stringer / Getty Images

Can Elon Musk Fix Flint’s Water?

By Fiona E. McNeill

The Michigan community of Flint has become a byword for lead poisoning. Elon Musk recently entered the fray. He tweeted a promise to pay to fix the water in any house in Flint that had water contamination above acceptable levels set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
A researcher at Oregon State University examines creeping bentgrass. Oregon State University / Flickr / Tiffany Woods

You Need to Be Paying Attention to GMO Grass

By Dan Nosowitz

Creeping bentgrass doesn't get as much attention as other genetically modified plants. But this plant tells us an awful lot—emphasis on the "awful"—about how GMO plants are regulated and monitored.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Alaska Wilderness League

Grassroots Fighters for the Arctic Refuge Take the Case to DC

By Rebekah Ashley

Even though our day-to-day existence may be far removed from Arctic Alaska, we must stand for the protection of the Arctic Refuge and ask our representatives to do the same.

Most Americans oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In fact, a majority of us "strongly oppose it." This broad public concern echoed through the halls of Congress during Alaska Wilderness League's Wilderness Week, when more than 25 people from around the country (as far as Alaska and as young as six months) convened in Washington, DC, in late May to advocate for the protection of the Arctic Refuge. Collectively, our group met with more than 60 offices in just three days.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!