New rules requiring both homes and commercial buildings to be all-electric and net-zero energy in 2024 and 2027.

Denver's Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency (CASR) released its plan to achieve net-zero energy in all new buildings and homes by 2030 to address climate change in Denver.

According to CASR, buildings and homes accounted for 64 percent of Denver's 2019 emissions. The office also estimates 40 percent of Denver's buildings will be new by 2050. Reducing emissions in new buildings and homes is critical to addressing climate change in the city, CASR said. 

"Cities can bend the curve on atmospheric carbon because they are responsible for over 70 percent of (greenhouse gas) emissions globally," said the report. "Denver can implement effective strategies that will help guide our city to a climate-safe future in a way that works for all of our businesses and residents."

Denver defines Net Zero Energy, or NZE, as a new home or building that is highly energy-efficient and fully powered from renewable energy sources. Under the plan, new buildings and homes are expected to be highly energy-efficient, all-electric, powered by renewable energy and providers of demand flexibility for the grid, which shifts electricity consumption to coincide with times when electricity is clean and cheap.

The plan calls for the 2024 Denver Building and Fire Code to require net zero energy, all-electric new homes, and the 2027 Denver Building and Fire Code to require net zero energy, all-electric buildings. The 2030 Denver Building and Fire Code will implement verification that buildings perform as designed. 

In addition to the technical requirements, the city and CASR will support the plan through marketing, outreach, training, education, financing, and advocacy. CASR said it hopes the plan will create clean energy jobs, drive economic recovery, and improve energy equity.

According to the CASR report, a cost analysis of all-electric buildings specific to Denver found that new construction electric homes could cost about $5,300 less to build compared with mixed-fuel homes, and new construction of commercial buildings could cost $18,100 less to build than mixed-fuel buildings. The analysis also pointed to potential utility cost savings over time.

The city is also developing a Beneficial Electrification Implementation Plan for existing buildings, which will address how to strategically electrify existing buildings.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and the Denver City Council created CASR to manage the city's emission reduction goals and sustainability programs.