Green Building Programs Profiles

The green building programs highlighted below include voluntary and/or mandatory requirements for new construction, additions or significant remodeling projects for commercial, residential and public buildings. The programs include varying degrees of performance guidelines for energy conservation, water use and waste related to the construction and operation of buildings. Click on the link below for details on the green building program administered and enforced by each community:

Additional information on green building programs is available from the US Green Building Council.

BoulderCity of Boulder, Colorado

Boulder has an extensive history of implementing green building initiatives, beginning in 1976 when voters approved the Danish Plan - Boulder's Residential Growth Management Plan. As a part of this plan, the city performed a community energy audit and developed an energy management planning methodology based on the results. From the audit, the city discovered that the residential sector accounted for nearly 40% of the total energy use, and single family detached homes composed 54% of housing stock and consumed 74% of total residential energy use. In 1980, the building code was amended with conservation and energy related features to focus on residential construction. This was the origin of the Energy Options Points program, the predecessor of the city's current Green Points program.

In the 90's, the city reevaluated the Energy Options program by utilizing many aspects of the Green Built Program, which was already adopted by the Boulder Home builders Association, in developing the new Green Points program. A checklist of energy efficiency and sustainable measures was developed with the realization that some measures cost more than others to implement. Thus, points were assigned to each measure reflecting the varying cost and value to homeowners. The program was revised in 2001 by increasing the number of required points and including remodeling projects over 500 square feet. Also, larger homes over 2,500 square feet would be required to earn additional green points based on square footage.

On November 13, 2007, the Boulder City Council adopted updates to the "Green Points and Green Building Program," which became effective on February 1, 2008. It consists of optional and mandatory requirements related to design, construction, operations, recycling, and deconstruction and intended to conserve energy, water and other natural resources.

The ordinance consists of a rating system for the environmental performance of residential construction and operational practices, and provides guidelines for documentation that demonstrates compliance. The ordinance requires builders to select from a checklist of residential building methods, materials and practices that are designed to increase energy efficiency, reduce water consumption, reuse or recycle construction materials, reduce solid waste and improve indoor air quality.

Mandatory green building requirements include homes to meet performance-based energy savings goals, that range from 30-75% more efficient than the 2006 IECC code (depending on square footage), as shown in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Home Size Built to 50% above 2006 IECC

Square Feet 1,000 2,000 3,500 5,000
Greenhouse Gas Emissions 3.8 6.9 11.3 16.3
% GHG savings 36% 32% 30% 26%
% Total Energy Savings 35% 36% 34% 35%
Incremental Installation Cost 
(includes $2K federal tax credit)
$4,170 $4,849 $6,975 $9,167
% Increase of Incremental over 
Hard Construction Costs
2.0% 1.2% 1.0% 0.9%
Total Energy Cost $295 $467 $695 $880

Source: City of Boulder

The ordinance also includes the following prescriptive energy efficiency and waste reduction requirements:

  • At least half of light fixtures and lamps must be energy efficient (e.g., ENERGY STAR fixtures with CFLs),
  • Gas furnaces are required to be sealed combustion with a minimum efficiency rating of 90% AFUE, and
  • A minimum of 50% of the construction waste must be recycled.

Energy performance is determined through a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rating or an energy audit. Compliance of and inspections of Green Points applications is done in conjunction with a residential building permit application and field inspections. The applicants must demonstrate compliance with all provisions of the Green Points program before the city manager can grant a certificate of occupancy.

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Salt Lake CityCity of Salt Lake City, Utah

In 2005 former Mayor Rocky Anderson issued an Executive Order requiring all new and renovated city buildings and facilities be certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System as LEED-Silver or better.  The Executive Order applies to all public buildings that are owned and operated by Salt Lake City Corporation. In his State of the City address on January 15, 2008, Mayor Ralph Becker stated he will be proposing a revision to the Salt Lake City's building codes to strongly encourage use of LEED for privately owned buildings. 

LEED certification requires that environmental and energy-efficient design be incorporated into new buildings or major renovations of existing buildings. These buildings are also more efficient than conventional structures in terms of reduced maintenance and operating costs.

The Salt Lake Intermodal hub is a 23,500 ft2 transportation center that includes a bus terminal, ticket counter, and offices for Greyhound personnel. It earned LEED Silver certification from US Green Building Coalition (USGBC), making it first-ever LEED project in Salt Lake City.

The Fuller Paint Building in Salt Lake City is a 50,000 square foot building, housing the corporate headquarters of Big-D Corporation. The building is listed on the National Historic Register through the National Park Service and received LEED Gold certification. GSBS Architects was hired to design the LEED certified renovation, while preserving historic features.

In November 2006, the Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously to endorse the LEED certification requirement by requiring certain buildings receiving city funds to be at least LEED Certified. This ordinance affects the construction or major renovation (more than 25% of the building's square footage) of a commercial, multi-family residential or municipal building that will contain more than 10,000 sq. ft of occupied space. City-owned buildings must obtain a LEED Silver certification and all other projects using city-funds must obtain the minimum level of LEED certification.

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ScottsdaleCity of Scottsdale, Arizona

In 1998, Scottsdale established the state's first voluntary Green Building Program to encourage environmentally responsible construction practices by incorporating healthy, resource and energy efficient materials and methods in the design and construction of homes. The program rates building projects in six areas: (1) site use, (2) energy, (3) indoor air quality, (4) building materials, (5) solid waste, and (6) water. Educational programs for the public and builders are an integral part of the program.

Features in the program are intended to achieve energy savings through efficiency improvements that the builder chooses from the program checklist.  They include:

  • the use of well insulated building envelope with internal thermal mass,
  • passive solar design strategies, such as proper orientation and design of interior spaces for seasonal benefits to reduce energy load and maximize comfort,
  • installation of high-performance low-e windows and external shading devices,
  • energy efficient lighting, and
  • high efficiency mechanical systems (SEER 14 AC and 90% AFUE furnaces), with sealing and insulation of ducts
Case Study: Granite Reef Senior Center

This 37,500 square foot building is a showcase of sustainable design in the context of the Sonoran Desert urban environment. It is the first green certified city facility under the City of Scottsdale Green Building Policy and will be the first green certified Senior Center in the State of Arizona. Energy efficiency features include:

  • reduced energy costs by 50% over ASHRAE 90.1 energy standards,
  • highly energy efficient building envelope with super insulated wall, door and window systems,
  • shaded windows and entrances,
  • use of daylighting to reduce indoor electrical lighting loads, and
  • highly efficient lighting to reduce indoor heating loads.

The city provides training and marketing benefits to professionals who participate in the program. The annual Green Building Expo and monthly lecture series provides information and resources on site use, energy, building materials, indoor environmental quality, water, and waste reduction. Participating architects, designers and builders are listed in a directory, which is included in promotional materials at public events on the city website.  From 2004 - 2007, nearly 250 builders and 220 designers have participated in the program.

Qualified green building projects also receive priority in the plan review and approval process. This means green building projects receive building permits in two-thirds of the time as regular projects (depending on the complexity of the project). Development and technical assistance is also provided as a part of the process. Builders may also utilize "Green Building Construction" job site signs to distinguish their projects from others.

The city has included mandatory requirements for one- and two-family dwellings and multiple single-family dwellings (townhomes and condominiums) not more than three stories in height. Some of the required measures include:

  • Design building to be at least 15% above IECC or obtain ENERGY STAR certification
  • At least 80% of improved landscape shall be Xeriscape or native planting
  • A continuous air/thermal barrier
  • Seal all penetrations and connections in building envelope
  • Size space heating and cooling systems to the building's load as calculated using ACCA Manual J or equivalent
  • Install high-efficiency toilets in 50% of the bathrooms
  • Fully insulate hot water pipes to a minimum of R-2 throughout the entire home

On March 22, 2005, the city council adopted a Resolution to establish the "Green Building LEED Gold Policy" for new city buildings and major renovations to existing city remodels. Scottsdale was the first municipality in the nation to adopt a LEED Gold requirement.

For more information, visit:

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TellurideTown of Telluride, Colorado

On March 29, 2005, Telluride adopted an ordinance requiring all residential new construction, additions and remodels to comply with green building regulations. The green building requirements were developed over a 2-year period with extensive public input.  The code is based on a point system and the required amount of points depends on the size and type of the construction project. The code is divided into four categories: (1) energy efficiency, (2) indoor air quality, (3) materials, and (4) resource conservation.  All projects must also meet the Town of Telluride energy code requirements (UCBC 1997 with local amendments).  A minimum of 15% of the total required points must come from the energy efficiency category.  Points can be accrued based on a hundred different measures in the categories. The code is updated annually to reflect changes in building practices and ensure its effectiveness.  Currently, the code does not apply to commercial construction.

The code is designed into two templates for residential construction. The first outlines requirements for residential construction with density of a triplex or less (based on square footage), and the second applies to multi-residential construction with a density greater than a triplex. Checklists are provided based on the two requirements.

A Green Building Resource Guide is provided that includes background information on the rationale for Telluride's Green Building Code, and offers local and regional resources to obtain green building products and services. 

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