Since 2017, the imposition of the “Green Roof Ordinance,” numerous changes have taken place in the Denver construction industry. Denver’s green roof initiatives impacted the construction industry in various ways. The adoption of the “Green Building Ordinance” in 2018 to replace this ordinance was a significant step forward in achieving Denver’s ambitious plan for a sustainable environment.

Initiatives of voters, CPD, and CASR are tailoring the construction industry to hit the communal goal of zero GHG emissions by 2040. Following this, and as with the passing of GFO, builders are now facing a variety of challenges.

Here, we explore the impacts of such climate protection regulations and the resolution.

Impacts of Denver Green Roof Initiatives on Construction

Increased Construction Costs

The GBO-related terms in new building construction in Denver make it difficult to deal with the additional cost. Experienced builders are budgeting appropriately to avoid the same construction chaos in 2017 and 2018.

However, the additional cost is required to increase the load-bearing capacity of the buildings, for the installation of watering facilities on the roof, the installation of solar panels, certification (like LEEDS, etc.) fees, higher maintenance costs, and many more. In an approximation, the additional monetary requirement is $210,000, which is similar to the cost of a modern family house.

Expert Manpower Is Needed for Vegetation

Green roofing necessitates a fully functional irrigation system. It is not enough to plant the seeds and automate the watering process; continuous and consistent monitoring by experienced farming personnel is required.

With difficult-to-get criteria, for vegetation-related manpower, monthly expense allocations demand a healthy sum. It often initiates disputes between builders and space owners or tenants.

Insurance Disputes

Even after 5 years of the Green Roof Ordinance’s implementation, insurance companies and builders are in conflict over vegetation damage. In general, insurance companies are not bound to compensate for vegetation damage due to natural disasters and man-made mistakes. In actuality, Denver falls in category 5b on the “hardiness of plants” rating given by the Agricultural Department. It indicates there are very few plants that can survive year-round.

Considering this and the sensitivity of year-round plants, damage is inevitable. Here, both parties (builders and insurance companies) argue over the responsibility to protect their own financial interests. Hence, the deteriorating relationship between builders and insurance companies.

Degraded Structural Life-cycle

Water always finds a way to penetrate the top floor’s roof, columns, and beams. It slowly spreads through the infrastructure of the building, bringing down the life cycle of the establishment. Surely, there are numerous modern and effective coatings available, but all have specific functioning times that are not more than 5–10 years.

Uprooting the whole vegetation setup is required once every five years. To up-and-down the respective materials, a greater amount of money, time, and effort is required while disrupting the residents’ daily lives.

Other Requirements Than Green Features

As mentioned earlier, construction projects require “Green Certificates” from reputed and globally recognized environmental protection-related organizations. Taking LEEDS, to acquire the certificate from this organization, not only requires having vegetation on the roof but also more complex measures.

LEEDS issues certificates considering their standards for parking, free spaces, segment-wise sustainable features, natural light use, and so on. These are generally far more advanced than the state’s standards and critical to accommodate.

The Gateway

Concerning the listed issues and respecting the need for a sustainable and clean environment, builders in Denver do not have many options. The only solution is horizontal construction expansion. Currently, new home buyers (residential) are also more interested in avoiding the complex maintenance system and associated costs of the verticals’ green roofing.

Observation of Denver Business Journal indicates that within Q1 of 2022, more than 286 new homes have been added to the market. Significantly, real estate experts are considering that this number is not adequate to cope with the new house demand. Not only individual buyers but also large investors are crowding the market.

As a result, the newly constructed luxury family house price in Denver reached a record high of $2,566,000 in October; the previous high was $1,90,700 in 2021. However, in December Q1, the median price was lowered to $2,400,000. The reason for this decrease is the increasing interest rate.

Surely, people are rushing towards purchasing new family houses for modern amenities, top-notch interiors, more functionalities, money savings, etc. It doesn’t mean that the need for living space in high-rise buildings is diminished in the market. Economic growth, a lower crime rate, higher employment opportunities, quality education, etc. are directing more and more people to the metro area. In addition, the demand for commercial properties is also increasing for corporate offices, showrooms, and seasonal lodging.

As land is limited in the metro area, the need for space in tall buildings is ever-evolving. Builders should find more strategic approaches to mitigate the mentioned impacts of Denver green roof initiatives in construction.