The City of Boulder, Colorado, just 25 miles northwest of Denver, lies within Boulder Valley east of Rocky Mountain National Park. Boulder is known for its outdoor activities, including cycling and running, and has earned a reputation as “green” city due to the City’s walkability, transit oriented development, green building techniques, and overall aesthetically pleasing design. The Green Points Program (“Green Points”), created in 1996, was the first mandated municipal residential dwelling building code in the country. Boulder’s green building practices are a response to several issues, including energy and climate change, protection of natural resources, and educating the Boulder community about sustainable construction.
Boulder’s green building code requirements are mandatory for all new construction, remodels, or additions to residential structures, including single-unit dwellings, multi-unit dwellings, and dwellings within mixed use developments. Residential dwellings are divided into groups based on square footage, and each group has a minimum Green Point requirement ranging from twenty to sixty points. For example, new buildings between 3,001 to 5,000 square feet must achieve 40 Green Points in the resource conservation category, where one green point is awarded for each HERS rating score below the HERS index rating requirement. These 40 Green Points can be achieved by various methods, including 3 points for a site that is greater than 90% permeable surface (for example, less pavement) and up to 10 points for sufficiently insulated windows. Energy star appliances can also yield up to 6 points, including 2 points for an energy star refrigerator. The Green Points Program employs several unique techniques outside of energy efficiency practices including material use (Forest-Stewardship-Council-certified wood), waste management and high-efficiency fixtures. Exemptions from the Green Points requirements are given to buildings that will, upon construction, be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified. The city manager is also enabled to make reasonable interpretations with respect to modifications to meeting the Green Points requirements.
The ordinance includes minimum energy efficiency standards that are derived from and set to exceed the city’s Energy Conservation and Insulation Code (IECC), and these standards are also based on the size of a building or unit. For example, new buildings from 3,001 to 5,000 square feet must demonstrate an energy efficiency level that is 50% more energy efficient than the standards in the IECC from 2006. Additionally, Boulder’s code mandates sustainable practices in the construction phase with respect to deconstruction materials, reuse and waste management, and recycling.