In January, a Denver ordinance went into effect that requires green roofs to be put on all new buildings as well as on existing buildings once their roofs are replaced. It was strongly supported and opposed, but people from both sides have worked together in the past few months to make it more flexible and realistic. It is only a part of a larger trend in environmentally minded construction around the nation.
Despite garnering voter approval, the language of Denver’s ordinance needed work, as evident by how Katrina Managan of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment was given the task of leading a process for changing the initiative. That process lasted until June 15 and the City Council will vote on the issue in October at the earliest.
Managan said there were problems translating the ordinance from Toronto’s building codes, which inspired it, to Denver’s municipal codes. Also, since about 90 percent of existing buildings cannot support the weight of a green roof, a vast majority of buildings would get exempted. The initiative was very narrow in what would count for compliance, a rooftop garden or solar panels and that’s it. “What we really want to honor is the benefits the voters were going to get from that ordinance,” said Managan. Her goal was to be sure the voters at least got what they voted for in spirit.