The green roof requirement would also apply to existing buildings over 25,000 sq. ft. when their roofs are replaced, and to existing buildings when additions cause their floor area to reach that threshold. Yes, I-300 is a mandate, not an incentive program. As a landscape architect, I’m aware of the weak incentives directed at developers to leave existing trees in place. Denver prides itself on it’s tree canopy, yet the city’s incentives are not enough to retain the tree canopy along the streets and front setback…surely incentives will not be enough to influence developers, real estate owners and professionals to include green roofs on structures.
If Denver seems to be too radical with this green roof policy, then think back to those radical Mesopotamians who built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon…the most famous green roof in history which dates back to 600 BC. Also consider those radical, pillaging Vikings (800-100 AD) who preferred sod roofs on their buildings. Now widely adopted in Europe, especially Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Norway (whose climates are similar to Colorado), green roofs and the supporting technology has grown 15-20% since the 1960’s when it first re-emerged on the market.
San Francisco passed a similar green roof ordinance in January 2017. Considered as one of the most expensive cities in the US to live, voters recognized the value of green infrastructure. Washington DC, Chicago, New York City, Toronto, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Nashville, Baltimore, Hampton Road, and Seattle (in this order) are the top 10 cities for green roof implementation. Portland and Hoboken are not too far behind. If Hoboken can do this, surely Denver can.
Mayor Michael Hancock, for example, argues that the measure is too rigid and that green roofs would be too costly. It will be too costly not to implement green roofs, with all the benefits they will bring to the city such as: Local job creation, heat island decrease (Denver has the 3rd highest in heat island effect), improve air quality (Denver has the 11th worst air pollution), hail damage reduction, intrinsic stormwater management, increased roof membrane longevity, fire retardation, increased property values, just to name a few.
According to campaign finance records, every donor to Citizens for a Responsible Denver, the political committee opposed to I-300, is either directly involved with or related to developing. Did the opponents not know that PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing is now available in 33 states including Colorado? PACE helps reduce the higher upfront capital costs associated with green roofs. Did the opponents also not know that the ROI for green roofs is between 220-247% ? Knowing my personal investment ROI’s, I’d like to build a green roof.
A December 2016 audit by Denver Auditor Timothy O’Brien found that the Office of Sustainability, created by Hancock in 2013, “does not have sufficient authority or resources to ensure that the City’s 2020 Sustainability Goals are achieved”. These are the goals which aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable energy consumption. If Denver’s Office of Sustainability is not able to solve the problem, then maybe we should be thankful for the Denver Green Roof Initiative for taking the initiative to solve the problem.
Green Roofs for Healthy Cities www.GreenRoofs.org
Living Architecture Monitor magazine (LivingArchtiectureMonitor.com/Denver)