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Denver City Council approves Green Code and lists Passive House certification as compliance path

We are pleased to share some exciting news from our home city — Denver, Colorado. In the City’s efforts to push forward its 80×50 Climate Action Plan, and with the goal of Net Zero new construction by 2035, City Council has approved a voluntary, incentivized “Green Code”.

Having identified Passive construction as a critical part of being able to realistically reach Net Zero goals, the Denver Green Code has listed Passive House certification — both through PHI or PHIUS — as a compliance path. The City Council voted for the change on December 23rd, 2019, and Mayor Hancock signed the bill on December 26th, 2019.

The Denver Green Code is expected to eventually become mandatory in a future code update, serving as a “stretch code” to help encourage local construction companies to get on board. The writing on the wall is that Passive standards are the future of the building industry, and more and more cities are looking for ways to support reaching those standards.

This code adoption is important for several reasons. One, our building codes are how we ensure the safety of what’s built in Denver, and we take this very seriously. Our codes also raise the bar for energy conservation in our built environment in support of the city’s climate action goals

Scott Prisco, Denver’s chief building officer

Learn more and get others on board

Not sure what Passive standards are exactly? Think of it as a building code; only a lot more stringent. The Passive House standards can be applied to any building typology – residential or commercial. They do not dictate the method of construction or materials specified. The Passive House standards are simply performance criteria to which a building must be designed and built. When Net Zero projects are built to Passive standards, as opposed to local building code, it greatly reduces the amount of renewable energy solutions needed because a Passive building consumes 75 to 90% less energy. This is why it is an attractive tool for substantial climate action in one of the largest polluting sectors — buildings.

Denver City Council's Green Code

If you’d like to research more and send your own local policymakers information to help them implement similar language in your city, please see Denver’s excellent resources on their Building and Fire Code Adoption.

For those of you who have already joined us down the rabbit hole of building science geekiness, consider sharing the excellent Policy Guide published by the North American Passive House Network. It has plenty of information about how Passive has been incorporated into building code language across the country and what that means.

Engage in professional training

If you are in the Colorado construction industry and are in need of training in the Passive standards, please get in touch with us at Emu. We are one of the very few organizations accredited in the United States to offer Passive House builder training, and we license our curriculum to partners and authorized trainers in order to help get as many training sessions on the calendar as possible.

We research and develop our curriculum to be a source of practical, brand-neutral, advanced building science. We also offer the unique Passive Pod Workshop as part of that course, should you chose to take it here in Colorado.

Our mission is to close the gap between mainstream practices and proven advanced building science, and we believe education is the first step.

In celebration of the Denver Green Code, we are offering a special #LoveThisPlace discount for anyone who supports the City of Denver in its efforts to implement climate action. Simply enter Promo Code LOVETHISPLACE for a $100 discount off any training session.

Sign up for our next “Net Zero via Passive House” presentation.

Leave us your info in the signup form below and we will let you know when the next public presentation of “Net Zero via Passive House” is scheduled. If you’d like to schedule a presentation with AIA CE credit for your firm, please specify that in the notes.

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