Ballot Issue Forum: Initiated Ordinance 300 – Green Roofs

hello I’m Tamra banks and welcome to
Denver decides this Community Partnership is dedicated to accessible
and transparent elections the partnership includes the League of Women
Voters of Denver and in turn aber hood cooperation Denver decides is presented
by Denver atetv our goal today is to present a ballot issue form as we gear
up for the election on Tuesday November 7th among the questions on this year’s
ballot is initiated ordinance 300 also known as the green roof initiative this
ordinance ask City voters to adopt a measure that mandates every building
building Edition and any roof replacement of a building with a gross
floor area of 25,000 square feet constructed after January 1st 2018 shall
include a green roof or a combination of green roof and solar energy collection
system our format for this forum will follow a basic debate outline with
opening and closing statements cross-examination and will include
responses to questions submitted by the forum organizers let’s begin by meeting
the participants who will present and discuss the pros and cons of initiated
ordinance 300 beginning at my right is Brandon arethe Eimer
the director of the a300 green roof initiative and mr. reath heimer will be
speaking for ordinance 300 and on my left is Kathy Barton ur the co-chair of
citizens for are responsible of Denver Kathy will be speaking against ordinance
300 welcome to you both thank you both for being here we’re going to start with
opening statements for each of our speakers and as you can see our
timekeepers are right out front timing your statements and your
questions mr. Reath hi Marie Europe first speaking for initiative 300
ordinance 300 and you will have one minute and a half thank you
hello my name’s brandon routh himer the founder of the Denver green roof
initiative this time last year Bernie Sanders told us the change does not come
from the top and that we must get active at the local level to make the changes
we need and for me nothing is more important than climate change because of
all the issues that we talk about none of them mean anything if we don’t have a
healthy planet to live on so I said to myself how can I make a
difference how can I make changes that we need so I start sir I started doing
research with the question in mind what was Denver doing for the climate and the
environment and on the surface it looked like a lot was being done the Denver
office of sustainability was created through an executive order by Michael
Mayer Hancock and together attainable goals were set for 2020 but once I
started to dig deeper I realized nothing was being done to achieve these goals
and this past December the city auditor released a report outlining just that
for four years the office of sustainability was given no resources no
authority not even a phone number and this is a big problem as environmentally
friendly as we are in this city the city isn’t so much we have unsuitable creeks
lakes and rivers we currently ranked 11th worst in air
quality specifically for particulate and ozone pollution and we’re third worst in
the nation for urban heat island and urban heat island is when the city is
significantly hotter than because of all the pavement and construction and these
issues are what led us to organize a citizen led initiative to ensure that
development is done sustainably by requiring large buildings dedicate a
portion of their rooftop to solar or rooftop gardens H thank you now opening
statement from Kathy Barse nur speaking against initiated ordinance 300 thank
you my name is Kathy Barse nur and I’m the co-chair of citizens for a
responsible Denver we opposed initiative 300 along with Mayor Michael Hancock the
Colorado Coalition for the homeless Colorado Farm Bureau several unions the
visit Denver and the Denver metro chamber just to name a few
so we’re opposed to this this initiative for three key reasons first the notion
of mandating green roofs in Denver is overreaching this
date would strip property owners of the ability to determine the best and
highest use for their own developments which may include green roofs
it may include solar it may include white roofs or a traditional roofing
system and fortunately the proponents didn’t explore incentives in order to
include those in their initiative second it would be one thing if this green roof
applied only to new construction but this also applies to existing buildings
so HOAs residents and building owners would be required to find the funds to
install these expensive systems which can be five times more expensive than
traditional roofing not to mention the ongoing cost of maintaining these
systems we don’t need to make housing in Denver more expensive finally we’re
extremely disappointed that the proponents created this in a vacuum they
never talked to any of the stakeholders directly affected by this affordable
housing advocates Denver Public Schools Denver Water Denver fire collaboration
is the Denver way and we encourage you to vote no on a 300 thank you now we’re
moving on to the rebuttal portion of the program
now mrs. Barton er you will have 30 seconds for a rebuttal to mr. Reath
homers opening statement Thank You mr. reath heimer
discussed mentioned senator Sanders and I believe that even senator Sanders
would want something of this to happen in a collaborative fashion he would not
want an initiative like this to be developed in a vacuum without the input
of the important stakeholders that I mentioned before affordable housing
advocates and Denver water Denver fire and so again we ask you to vote no on
initiative 300 we believe it’s bad policy for Denver right Thank You mr.
Reath hammer you’ll have 30 seconds for rebuttal – MS partners opening statement
Thanks yes I’d like to mention that all
mandates are all building codes are mandates we have them in place for
safety such as fire escapes fire alarms things like that
and this mandate is no different this would increase the environmental
livability of Denver by solving those problems that I mentioned earlier it’s
also mentioned that we didn’t collaborate however beginning of 2011
for three years we held symposiums and conferences meeting with green print
Denver and other organizations trying to get policy passed and nothing ever came
about then again in 2015 we tried but nothing came about yeah okay okay great
thank you so now for the cross-examination round beginning with
Brandon you may ask Kathy a question and Kathy you will have one minute to reply
sure I would like to ask who are the primary funders of the citizens for
possible Denver the primary funders for Citizens for responsibility is a variety
of organizations in my opening statement you heard me mention a lot of different
organizations the Colorado Farm Bureau several labor unions there are
individual businesses I happen to be a small business owner in the City and
County of Denver there are some trade associations that are also donors but we
have a broad variety of people who are donating to our campaign okay now Kathy
you may ask Brandon a question read and you’ll have one minute for your response
Denver is finishing up a process called the 80 by 50 climate goal which means
that they want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050
many of the members of our coalition were involved in the process that was
used by the city to develop that plan and welcome thoughtful discussion around
potential ideas why did you not pursue a similar open and inclusive
coalition-building strategy to craft this initiative sure well when I began
this initiative I tried reaching out to multiple organizations City Planning and
Development City Council and so forth however none of them had the time of day
to meet with me I wouldn’t respond to emails wouldn’t
respond phone calls when I did get meetings with city with city
planning it was a very short and brief meeting in which they really didn’t want
to speak with me so we tried I’m a full time manager at
Red Robin this isn’t something I’m not a Politico this is something that I just
really believe strongly in and found it really discouraging when nobody would
speak with me about it all right we’ll move on to round two of our
cross-examination questions so now this time Kathi will start with you to ask
Brandon a question and bread and you’ll have one minute to reply there’s no
exemption for public buildings in initiative 300 so that means Denver
public schools would be subject to the mandate and would either have to comply
with a green or solar roof or to pay the exemption do you believe that DPS should
be forced to make the decision to spend money in mandated building improvements
rather than investing these dollars in the classroom so there are multiple
exemptions in the in the code it all depends upon City planning to make those
determinations we understand that certain things might not be how everyone
likes them but we’ve made sure that there is a technical advisory board in
place that will make these changes in six months to make sure that everyone is
properly accommodated for we tried to accommodate for everyone and we
understand there might be some oversight but that is why we left it up to the
technical advisory board to make changes that are necessary okay and now Brandon
you may ask Kathy a question in Kathy you’ll have one minute for your response so in your research what what is the
average percentage cost to to these new construction new development I know we
spoke before in front of visit Denver and we went over the Karla Madison
Community Center for example so can you talk about the the additional cost what
percentage that would it would it would be certainly the additional costs to do
a green roof system on new construction I’m not a
roofer so I don’t know those myself so what we did was we went to the Colorado
roofing Association and asked them for input on what this would cost and they
indicated to us that it would be about $35 per square foot of the roof for this
cost and that’s just for the membrane it doesn’t include the dirt it doesn’t
include the foliage because we didn’t want to assume what foliage people would
pick and it also doesn’t include the water or running the water up there now
the percentage of the building development costs would vary depending
on the building that that you’re looking at mile high development and the Cobell
company developed that the the recreation the I’m sorry the affordable
housing project that we talked about their indication to us was this addition
to their costs would have met they very probably could not have been able to do
that project additionally you may I’m just great that’s right job that’s
alright it’s hard to see those sometimes okay that’s all right
so we’re moving on to Round three our next round
Brandon we’ll begin with you you can go first and the next question for Kathy
and Kathy you have one minute to answer you mentioned the 80 by 50 plan and also
I believe mayor Hancock has made a pledge to commit to 100% renewable
energy but all these all these pledges or I don’t know what word you want to
use for example this office sustainability hasn’t shown to do
anything in the four years that it’s been in existence so why should we
believe that these plans that are going to be put in place for whatever the
purpose is how do we know that those are going to actually come to fruition well
I think we can rely on some of these plans that the mayor is putting into
place and coming through fruition by looking at one of the examples energize
Denver and their benchmarking program is a program that was developed over the
course of a number of years and there was a lot of input that went into it it
included a lot of mandates to mandate improved
energy efficiencies and the city in cooperation with stakeholders decided
that what they would do is in the first year have buildings benchmark so we’ve
been doing that and this is all the buildings 25,000 square feet or greater
in the City and County of Denver and we’ve been doing that and currently
we’re at roughly 77 percent of all of the buildings in the first year it was
50,000 square feet or greater who have benchmarked in this year that compares
to other cities like Chicago who only benchmark 40 percent so you can see that
not only is the city committed to these types of programs but building owners
and developers are as well all right now Kathy your next question for Brandon and
again one minute for your answer Brandon you talked about the exemptions
and to qualify for an exemption in your initiative there are four very specific
criteria that are listed out and to get an exemption a building must meet at
least two of those but if a building were to even qualify for the exemption
then the initiative requires that that building pay a substantial fee for that
exemption and it’s not a one-time fee every time the roof needed to be have a
significant repair or replaced as we have hailstorms here in Colorado that
fee would apply so could you explain to the voters why you did not create real
exemptions for entities such as nonprofits and schools and hospitals and
affordable housing projects so there’s actually three different exemptions
listed in that bill one is in the definitions of available roof space so
if a building wanted to they could do 100% solar on their roof as opposed to a
green roof there’s also a second Teno 10304 B that states if they’re unable to
provide a green roof or coverage required that they may get an exemption
or provide a smaller green roof that would be required and then there’s the
third part that you mentioned about a cash in lieu in the event that they
didn’t want to do that so again we do believe that there are many different
options for exemptions and that the Technical Advisory will also update that
to make that positive change we need okay this brings us to our final
cross-examination round then Cathy we’ll start with you on this
first round you get to ask a question and Brandon you’ll have one minute again
Colorado is a high desert semi-arid climate and we get roughly 300 days of
sunshine a year maybe more if you ask the chamber and I can’t remember a
summer where we didn’t have some kind of watering restrictions Colorado has some
of the most stringent water laws in the nation did you have any discussion with
water law specialists to see whether the initiative as you have written it would
have any legal issues and why does the initiative not allow for drought or
watering restrictions well green roofs are typically watered
through drip systems as opposed to lawn watering systems which consume a
significant amount more water green roofs take about a quarter of an inch
per week which is below the the standard for Denver water consumption okay right
Brandon your final question for Kathy and Kathy I’ll have one minute to answer so so you mentioned the the energy
benchmarking from my understanding that was just recently put into place I think
two years ago and before that it was listed as optional for buildings to do
their benchmarking and they were found that nobody was really doing the
benchmarking until it was made mandated so now that we are benchmarking and and
saying how energy-efficient these buildings are what is going to be done
or what do you foresee that’s happening to make sure that these buildings become
more energy efficient other than just saying how energy-efficient they are
certainly to be clear the energy benchmarking started January 1st of this
year with buildings 50,000 square feet or greater and next year it will include
down to 25,000 square feet or greater and you’re correct the first year prior
to that it was a voluntary program most cities start with a voluntary program
but the collaboration occurred around the development of that
program meant that building owners and developers were invested in the program
so while it was a mandate it was a mandate we had participated in signed on
for and agreed to do which is why we’re at 77% compliance where other cities who
put that in without the collaboration are at 40% okay because of this brings
us to the ground will would have questions asked by our organizers and
you’ll get a minute one minute to respond and I’ll read the question and
Brandon you’ll have the first answer and then Kathy the question is have other
cities that have required some green roofs have been have they been
successful or not yes they’ve been very successful
Toronto comes to mind they’ve had it in place since 2009 they’ve already seen
energy consumption savings they’ve already seen lowering a temperature even
the cost of green roofs has gone down significantly since since their mandate
other cities like San Francisco is exploring they just passed a mandate as
of January 1st and their cost benefit benefit analysis is similar to ours here
in Denver showing a savings of 1.5 billion over 30 years for the city thank
you some of the other cities who have done green roof development as Brennan
mentioned Toronto San Francisco Seattle have very different climates than what
we have here they’re able to get their roofs established and then maintained
through natural waterfall unfortunately as I mentioned before we are a semi-arid
high desert climate and our green roof systems would be very different here
there is some research that shows green roofs in these areas will show
significant erosion of the soil from those green roof boxes so our concern is
without further research and further collaboration would we be adding to our
water problems and to brown cloud through the particulates blowing off of
the rooftops okay mm-hmm in our next question from our
organizers for our guests in this time Kathy I’ll answer first and then Brendan
and again one minute for your answers please comment on whether this
initiative will make installation of solar equipment on roofs more difficult
that’s a great question and I’m not sure if I can answer whether or not it will
make it more difficult on existing buildings you would certainly need to
look at the way the buildings are constructed could they could they handle
the weight load but one of the things that we haven’t really talked about is
how would our utilities deal with the additional solar that would be placed
onto the system it’s not like you can put solar panels on the roof and plug
them in you have to have feeder lines you have to have batteries and in some
instances if let’s take all of downtown for instance if you put solar on all the
roofs downtown you may very well have to have a new solar I mean I’m sorry new
electrical transformer stations downtown in order to be able to handle that new
power that comes and goes and flows throughout the day with usage so and
that cost would unfortunately be passed on to the consumer through utility bills
so I believe the answer is the cost would be significant
Brendan here answered for one minute solar and green roofs actually work
together very well they worked so well together in fact that they increase the
efficiency of solar panels because the roof temperature is actually an ambient
temperature studies have shown here in Denver at the
EPA where there’s a green roof that their roof was about 80 degrees as
opposed to across the street which was 170 degrees
it’s it’s common knowledge that cooler electronics run better so no we do not
believe that solar installation would be any more difficult all right moving on
to our next question submitted by our organizers is the
building industry and the city of Denver doing enough to reduce storm water
damage by requiring more permeable surfaces to absorb rainfall and Brandon
we’ll start with you for one minute I do not believe that that is
the case they are currently destroying city park golf course to make way for a
bunch of stormwater attention and interestingly enough green roofs are
actually considered a best management practice for stormwater by the urban
drainage and Flood Control District there’s an authority in our region we
need to make sure that we increase our impervious surfaces our green
infrastructure to make sure that as we grow and expand that our stormwater
doesn’t continue to flow into the South Platte and the Cherry Creek which is why
it is actually one of the worst rivers in the nation from my understanding with
E coli contamination heavy metals all of which can be mitigated through green
roofs with stormwater management Kathy thank you stormwater management is
something that has been in place in commercial buildings for years managed
through not only local rules and regulations but through regulations
coming out of Washington and the EPA one of our concerns about doing stormwater
management on rooftops of buildings is that we all know water will find a way
to follow gravity and move downhill that’s one of the reasons that
commercial buildings do stormwater management on the ground level or in the
subbasements because then they don’t have to worry about water getting into
office spaces and whatnot that would be a great concern if you move that
stormwater management to rooftops okay in our final round of questions from our
organizers tonight please comment on whether this proposal will significantly
increase the cost of housing and rent which are already very high in Denver
and Kathy we’ll start with you first for one minute okay we absolutely believe
that initiative 300 will increase the cost of housing and rents in Denver
economics 101 tells us that if you add costs to something those costs will get
passed on so for instance if the cost of a barrel
of oil in Saudi Arabia goes up the cost of gas at Costco where I get my gas also
goes up if the cost of fertilizer in in olathe on the corn goes up the cost of
the corn I pay for it the grocery store also goes up so in this instance these
costs will get passed on particularly if you look at the cost of an HOA who might
have to answer who might have to comply to this in their multi-family
residential building that HOA would be the one who had to pay for that and they
don’t have funds they would absolutely have to pass it on thank you and Brandon
one minute we believe the opposite we’ve we’ve seen study after study that this
that days in building improvements would significantly lower long-term operating
costs paying for itself in six and a half years that combined with the
longevity of the roof it makes no sense that a building or a building owner
should pass those costs onto a building tenant when they are going to pay when
they’re going to see those savings in such a short time we also like to
mention that the market determines the rent not the building buildings have to
replace their windows all the time you don’t see them charging extra in
rent because they had to replace some windows and there’s also pays funding
available which is a hundred percent financing program over a 20 year period
that allows and qualifies for these energy improvements all right very good
now this brings us to the end of our Q&A segment and we move on to the closing
statements each speaker will have a minute and a half for a closing
statement and we’ll reverse the order of the
opening statements which means we’ll begin with Kathy Barse nur
you will have 90 seconds for your closing statement first I’d like to say
thank you for the opportunity to be here today and to have an open dialogue on
this important discussion I recently had the pleasure of welcoming my first
granddaughter and I worry about the world that she’s going to grow up in
this issue this ordinance is addressing is one that
needs to be talked about but initiative 300 is an ill-conceived
one-size-fits-all mandate that was created in a vacuum with no input from
important stakeholders who would be directly affected such as Denver Water
affordable housing advocates Denver fire and the community this measure will have
lasting negative impacts on Denver and the cost of this mandate will hurt
affordable housing small businesses schools and hospitals even the
exemptions will lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional costs
that could cripple our flexibility and directly lead to increase costs to
consumers we are asking you to vote no on initiative 300 we believe it is bad
policy for Denver thank you all right thank you now a closing statement from
Brandon wreath homer and Brandon you will have 90 seconds for your closing
response green earths cleaner air they manage our stormwater they create
biodiversity for birds and bees and other insects they increase a building’s
energy efficiency by reducing heat transfer through the roof the list goes
on and on so so it’s really important that we continue to do green
infrastructure in our city this isn’t a new practice we have green roofs all
over the city with REI building the Botanic Gardens at EPA building the
Community College of Denver Denver Justice Center I’d go on and on about
all the green roofs in Denver but under the new under the current administration
we haven’t seen much growth as we did under mayor Hickenlooper at the time who
in the NGO bond actually is the one that got the Botanic Gardens three acre green
roof put in place and we’re also I’d also like to take a moment to to mention
who our endorsers are such as the Colorado Native Plant Society the policy
and Energy Committee of the Denver Democrats
Denver and Colorado the Green Party and most recently Zeppelin development who
builds green roofs and his development said that this is a no-brainer and that
this would elevate the design and quality of construction done in Denver
with all our flat roofs and all of the building going on in Denver doesn’t it
make sense that we build sustainably and for our future all right thank you that
brings us to the end of our forum our things to both of you for your
participation in being here we hope that we have given you a fair look at the
pros and cons of arguments for initiated ordinance 300 also known as the green
roof ordinance our things also go to the Denver decides partners which include
internet’ Burr hood cooperation and the League of Women Voters of Denver Denver
decides is presented by Denver eight TV remember election day is Tuesday
November 7th let your voice be heard be sure you are registered to vote and then
go out and vote for complete election information online go to Denver decides
org I’m Tamra banks thanks for joining us

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