On Nov. 8, voters approved a new sustainability plan for downtown Denver that requires new Denver high rises to have a
portion of their roofs covered by gardens or solar panels, according to denver.cbslocal.com.
The initiative passed by a roughly 52.5 to 47.5 vote despite a $250,000 advertising campaign by several Denver
businesses that oppose the plan.
The plan resembles those already in place in Toronto, San Francisco and Chicago. Nonprofits can apply for an
For a year, Brandon Reitheimer, campaign manager for the Denver Green Roof Initiative, and 60 volunteers pushed the
plan to require all new Denver buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to have roof gardens and/or solar panels, with
a goal of reducing air pollution and energy costs.
"We were just all grassroots," Reitheimer says. "Small money donors. People who really care about the environment and
care about the city."
However, developers and others—including Denver Mayor Michael Hancock—have concerns about the plan.
"We are concerned that it may mean additional costs to these projects that we are laying out in terms of the bond that
we did not have programmed in the dollars," Hancock says.
Reitheimer says the green roof plan includes a small up-front cost for builders, but the roofs last five times as long
and will pay dividends in the future.
"You're looking at a return on investment in about six and a half years," he says.
Andrea Burns with Denver Community Planning and Development is optimistic the initiative—also known as Ordinance
300—will not derail several city projects.
"It will be a little bit of work in the next few weeks, but green roofs are already possible in Denver," Burns says.
"It's just a matter of making those agreements that are part of initiative 300 work with our system now. We're going to
make this work for the people of Denver."
The city council can repeal or revise the ordinance in six months, with a two-thirds vote.