Denver Green Code Moves City Closer to Sustainability Goals

For the first time in Denver’s history, the city’s updated building and fire code will include a “Denver Green Code” designed to encourage more sustainable design and construction practices and in particular, move Denver closer to its goal of having new construction be net zero energy by 2035. The Denver Green Code will be a voluntary, incentivized piece of the code but is expected to become mandatory in a future code update.

“With the new Green Code, Denver will be the latest city to commit to a more sustainable future. Cities and states across the country are recognizing how they can reduce toxic pollutants that threaten health and impact climate. The Denver Green Code is an essential step toward clearer Denver skies, will help to meet local climate goals, and incorporates the latest international sustainable building standards,” said Catherine Cox Blair, director of the Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Denver Community Planning and Development seeks to adopt an updated building and fire code based on the 2018 series of base codes from the International Code Council (ICC). Denver’s proposed new code – the 2019 Denver Building and Fire Code – will include the ICC’s base codes as well as local amendments designed to meet Denver’s specific goals.

“This code adoption is important for several reasons. One, our building codes are how we ensure the safety of what’s built in Denver, and we take this very seriously. Our codes also raise the bar for energy conservation in our built environment in support of the city’s climate action goals,” said Scott Prisco, Denver’s building official.

Work on the new building and fire code began in early 2019. Amendments were submitted by members of the public and the city and were voted on by technical committees this summer. All committee meetings were open to the public.

If adopted by City Council, there will be a four-month period between the code adoption date and its effective date. During these four months, projects may use either the old 2016 code or the new 2019 code, but after the four-month grace period has elapsed, all projects applying for building or fire permits will need to meet the 2019 code.

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