One of the biggest arguments against the new green building law in Denver is, of course, the additional cost to implement the compliance options. As we mentioned in our blog post breaking down each option outlined in the new law, every roof on buildings over 25,000 square feet (with some exceptions) will need to be cool roofs, and then one additional compliance option needs to be chosen.

Many developers and building owners will most likely choose the option that costs them the least amount of money upfront, but it is worth it to take a look at how each option compares in the price tag, from highest to lowest. We aren’t going to mention any hard numbers because the actual budget will depend on a variety of factors for each building. Nonetheless it is a good place to start.

Vegetative Roofs and Solar Energy Options

For both new and existing buildings, there are options that involve installing a vegetative roof, green space, and/or on-site solar panels. Although it may come as no surprise, the compliance options with the highest amount of investment in infrastructure will cost a lot more upfront than the other options. Depending on how extensive the green space is, or how large of a solar array you would need to comply, this is by far the most expensive up front. But if we’re talking long term costs, these options are going to be more of an investment than an expense, because these are the options that are going to have the largest payoff and long-term costs savings. They are also the best way to boost the value of the property over time and give you a better payback when it is time to sell. So if you have the budget, skimping here might not be in the best interest of the building owner in the long run.

Paying into the Green Fund

One of the compliance options is to pay $50 per square foot of either 10% of the gross floor area of the building or 60% of the total roof area into the Denver Green Fund. The funds will be used for improving and expanding local green space as well as solar adoption for low-income and affordable housing projects. Depending on the size of your building, this may or may not be less expensive than installing a green roof. Many extensive green roof systems can be installed for a total cost of less than $50 per square feet (sometimes even half that).

Green Certification

For new buildings, having a green building certification such as LEED Gold will allow you to comply. Achieving LEED Gold is not easy and can cost a lot of money for skyscrapers, campuses, and other high occupancy buildings. But for industrial buildings, warehouses, or large big-box retail, the cost savings of a LEED Gold building make building one a worthwhile expense, and might not be as expensive as one might think.

Off-site Renewable, Energy Efficiency, and Energy Programs

There is also a myriad of options that involve off-site renewable, energy efficiency, and energy programs. These can be less expensive as far as upfront costs, while also giving the building owner long-term cost savings. There is also an enormous number of ways to achieve the goals outlined for each of these options, so building owners are likely to find a method that works well for their building and their budget.

It is important to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for each of the compliance options to see which one works best for the project at large, while still maintaining the budget of the project and benefiting from each pathway in terms of savings. Sow Green can help you do just that. We are dedicated to helping you find the best option for your buck, so contact us today for a consultation and let us help you comply with the Denver Green Building Law.


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