Regional News Briefs

February

Denver Stakes Out its Strategy for Clean, Healthy, and Net Zero New Homes and Buildings

Denver took a big leap forward with the release of its 168-page Net Zero Energy New Buildings and Homes Implementation Plan, laying out a strategy for all new construction to be net zero by 2030. It outlines a path through the next four building code cycles (2021, 2024, 2027, and 2030) to make all newly constructed homes and buildings highly efficient, all electric, powered by renewable energy, and grid flexible.

SWEEP’s buildings efficiency experts served on committees to help the city shape, develop, and revise the plan, and anticipate the plan can serve as both a model and inspiration for other cities and states.

One part of the plan gaining attention is the transition towards all-electric new homes and buildings, something climate experts say is not only necessary but already underway. Denver’s plan uses a stepped approach, requiring new homes to be electric-ready in 2021, and then all-electric and net zero by 2024. Commercial construction targets vary by sector but are a combination of electric-ready and partially electric in 2021, moving to all-electric and net zero by 2027. Each element of the plan will still be vetted by specialized code committees in each building code cycle and approved by city council. 

Homes and buildings are Denver’s largest source of climate pollution, and 40 percent of Denver’s 2050 building stock is yet to be built, justifying the spotlight on building codes. Cost savings and equity concerns also overlay the entire plan. Although this plan only affects new construction, a parallel effort to bring existing homes and buildings towards net zero will use different tools and policies, such as benchmarking and labeling, building energy performance standards, workforce training, and various retrofit incentives.

January

Colorado Releases its new Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap

Colorado released its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Pollution Reduction Roadmap on January 14, 2021. The Roadmap represents the most action-oriented, ambitious, and substantive planning process that Colorado has ever undertaken on climate leadership, pollution reduction, and a clean energy transition. It lays out an achievable pathway to meet the state’s science-based climate targets of 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030%, and 90% by 2050 from 2005 levels that were part of House Bill 19-1261 Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution. An executive summary of the Roadmap (also included in the full report) is available here.

“Colorado should act on this GHG Pollution Reduction Roadmap right away,” said Howard Geller, Executive Director of SWEEP. “Many of the steps it identifies will protect our climate, improve our health, and save us money – in particular through policies that will advance energy efficiency in buildings and put more electric vehicles on the road. There’s a lot of work to do and no time to waste.”