Last November, the Denver City Council enacted the Denver Green Roofs Initiative (the Initiative) after voter approval. The ordinance mandates “green roofs” for all large new construction projects and designates rules for retrofitting qualifying existing buildings at time of roof replacement with new environmentally-friendly roofs.
Green roofs, according to the first version of the ordinance, consist of either rooftop green space or solar panels on a percentage of the roof space. At time of passing, the Initiative was the most stringent green roof requirement in the United States and surpassed San Francisco’s “Better Roofs” mandate. It is one of the few mandates nationwide that require developers to install green roofs rather than offering incentives that encourage environmentally-responsible design. Advocates cited the benefits of green roofs - including a reduction in the urban heat island effect, lower heating and cooling costs - as key to a healthier, sustainable city.