Denver green-roof initiative would improve environment and city’s buildings
Initiative 300 on the Denver ballot is an opportunity to improve the environment and quality of design citywide — with a proven measure paid for by large-scale developers. Modeled after similar measures in San Francisco and Toronto, which local lawmakers passed with virtually no opposition, Initiative 300 requires buildings over 25,000 square feet to dedicate 20 percent of their roofs to green, permeable area, or provides waivers for solar panel installation.
The Toronto and San Francisco examples have created millions of square feet of green roofs installed to date. The result is reduced heat island effect, improved livability, and natural drainage and filtration of stormwater, all of which would greatly benefit our city. A prime beneficiary will be the Platte River, which has been designated as a condemned, contaminated waterway, with 300-plus outfalls dumping unfiltered stormwater directly into it. The high percentage of impermeable areas created by building and paving over large areas that rely on piped solutions to drainage are consistently cited as contributing causes to urban floods. Initiative 300 is a serious first step towards pushing our city in the direction of more environmentally and economically responsible alternatives for green infrastructure.
Nationally, Denver ranks 11th worst for air quality, and third worst for its urban heat island effect, while polluted waterways from stormwater runoff grow in concern. The buildings affected by this new building code consume 60 percent of the energy in this city. Low-performance, large-scale buildings are a major culprit for greenhouse gas emissions. This is an opportunity to make up ground in these areas where the city simply isn’t doing enough.
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