Tuesday, September 2, 2014
One Giant Leap – Green Denver Scrambles on Building Energy Codes!
Greenest City Denver
By Melissa Baldridge
Denver touts itself as one of the nation’s greenest cities — from bike ridership to outdoor lifestyles to mass transit to number of LEED buildings per capita. As recently as 2011, was named fifth nationwide in an overall green-city ranking, sixth for its buildings, and first for environmental governance. But that which doesn’t grow, dies.
The Queen City is now a laggard – both in its building energy codes, which haven’t changed for years, and in enforcement. Many of the metro area building departments have moved their building codes to the 2012 version. That means their energy codes are 15 percent more stringent than the 2009 codes. Denver’s residential energy codes are stuck in time in 2009, and its gutted residential requirements don’t require building envelope or duct testing – labor-intensive work that shows whether homes and duct systems leak. Nor does Denver require “commissioning” of commercial building systems like hot water heating, lighting and the building “shell” – making sure they function as designed.
Yet the city plans to implement 2015 building and energy codes next year – a gigantic leap for builders trying to squeak by swamped code officials doing clipboard walk-throughs, to an era of advanced home and building performance testing.
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