Denver Approves New Ordinance for Building Electrification

On Nov. 11, the Denver City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that will require energy performance and greenhouse gas emissions reductions in existing commercial and multifamily buildings and future electrification requirements for existing buildings. 

“This is truly a monumental step in the direction of rapidly reducing our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Katrina Managan, buildings team lead for Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency (CASR). “When we talk about bold yet practical policies and actions that will have immediate and long-lasting benefits for residents, this is what we mean.”

Commercial and multifamily buildings in Denver account for 49% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Denver is committed to reducing emissions and achieving net-zero energy by 2040. The ordinance will make a substantial dent in Denver’s buildings emissions, reducing them by roughly 80% by 2040.

The ordinance requires buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to get to 30% energy savings by 2030. Interim goals for 2024 and 2027 are set to advance progress. The ordinance also requires a gradual adoption of electric heating and cooling systems to replace gas systems when cost-effective.

“The city really understands buildings, how they work, and what actually has to happen to move toward renewable energy and electrification,” said Stephen Shepard, executive vice president of Denver Metro Building Owners and Managers Association. “Working with the CASR buildings team on this new ordinance made it easy to get behind a bold, flexible yet achievable path forward to greener buildings.”

The city plans to provide extensive support for building owners and managers with compliance, including incentives for electrification, extra support for buildings in under-resourced communities and a virtual Energize Denver Resource Hub to serve as a one-stop-shop to easily understand compliance measures.

Based on recommendations from the Energize Denver Task Force, the ordinance is the culmination of eight months of collaboration and conversations between building owners and managers, local utility and energy providers, residents, tenants, non-profits, labor and workforce representatives and clean energy advocates. The Task Force centered their work in equity to improve health outcomes, create and expand clean energy jobs and advance climate solutions for communities most harmed by climate change.

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