Roadmap to Net Zero Buildings

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Solar panels line the roof of a warehouse with the Golden foothills rising in the background.

Current Energy Code Strategies

Since 2010, Golden has integrated sustainable best practices of the building industry into requirements of new construction and major remodels within Golden. The City uses a modified and simpler version of the USGBC’s LEED checklist which includes a set of required water, energy, and waste standards plus a list of optional actions that require applicants to achieve 25 points through sustainable design before a building permit is issued. Over the years administration of these standards has revealed that they will not allow Golden to achieve our sustainability goals by their deadlines. The maintenance of a mostly points based evaluation system allows for an inconsistent application of requirements and dated sustainability options can often produce disappointing results in energy savings.

By transitioning the regulatory framework from a set of menu options to a primarily standards-based approach, energy regulations will become mandatory and ensure that Golden’s building inventory is consistently moving towards the City’s sustainability goals set in 2019. These goals include:

Renewables

  • To achieve 100% renewable energy for electricity by 2030 and 100% renewable for heating by 2050.
  • To align Greenhouse Gas Emission reductions with the Paris Accord by 2050.

Efficiency

  • To reduce consumption of electricity by 15% by 2030 and reduce consumption of natural gas by 15% by 2030.

The Transition to Net Zero

A citizen task force was formed to help prioritize projects, policies and programs relating to Golden's new energy goals. The energy taskforce met three times during 2020 to establish their recommendations, which were presented to the Community Sustainability Advisory Board in January of 2021. Read the full list of task force recommendations. Among those recommendations are strategies to reduce natural gas usage and to improve energy efficiency for non-residential buildings.

Building on these recommendations, the Community Sustainability Advisory Board (CSAB) and Planning Commission (PC) convened a subcommittee in 2021 to identify further potential strategies that are technologically and financially feasible, and needed to achieve the goals. To implement these strategies will take a mix of regulation (building and zoning codes), incentives (financial and code-related), and education. Briefly these include:

  1. New buildings (including residential, administrative and commercial) would be constructed immediately with 100% renewable (carbon-free) energy and without natural gas or other fossil energy sources to avoid substantial and costly retrofits and remodels in the future. Net zero construction is technologically feasible and financially competitive with traditional fossil energy technologies. Furthermore, net zero construction minimizes monthly energy costs, making living expenses in our City more affordable.
  2. Existing buildings in Golden would gradually switch to using renewable energy sources for electricity demand. This can be provided through a combination of Xcel renewable energy, “Community Choice” programs, Community solar garden(s), energy efficiency measures, and onsite renewable energy production / recovery.
  3. New and existing buildings would be constructed and retrofitted to meet energy efficiency requirements. Energy efficiency needs to be coupled with a conversion to renewable energy sources to keep the costs of renewable energy generation systems economical for businesses and homeowners.

CSAB and PC continue to work together to assess recommendations that address environmental and economic impacts of potential code solutions under consideration of social justice and equity. To meet these goals, CSAB and PC have adopted a set of guiding principles.

With goals and guidelines set, City staff requested proposals from experts to assist in creating new energy codes as well as gather feedback from stakeholders.


Energy Code Stakeholder Group

Thank you to all who have applied to share your perspective on pathways to a greener, built environment. The following representatives have been selected to evaluate and develop the strategies outlined above.

  • 2 Planning Commissioners
  • 2 Community Sustainability Advisory Board Members
  • 1 Jeffco Housing Authority/ Affordable Housing Representative
  • 3 Single Family Homeowners
  • 1 Commercial Landord/Owner
  • 1 Local Contractor
  • 1 Commercial & Residential Tenant
  • 1 Building Industry Expert
  • 2 Local Developers

These representatives will help form a roadmap to achieving Golden’s energy goals by 2030 and 2050 that includes immediate actions, identifies trigger points related to the build environment in the community, financial options to lessen the burden of improvements or assisting in the financial planning process, and opportunities for transition to renewable energy and electrified fossil fuel free buildings.

The selected participants will meet Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the following dates:

Recordings of the meetings will be available under "Meeting Recordings" the right-hand side of this page and the City will continue to ask for public feedback as the group moves through its process.

Current Energy Code Strategies

Since 2010, Golden has integrated sustainable best practices of the building industry into requirements of new construction and major remodels within Golden. The City uses a modified and simpler version of the USGBC’s LEED checklist which includes a set of required water, energy, and waste standards plus a list of optional actions that require applicants to achieve 25 points through sustainable design before a building permit is issued. Over the years administration of these standards has revealed that they will not allow Golden to achieve our sustainability goals by their deadlines. The maintenance of a mostly points based evaluation system allows for an inconsistent application of requirements and dated sustainability options can often produce disappointing results in energy savings.

By transitioning the regulatory framework from a set of menu options to a primarily standards-based approach, energy regulations will become mandatory and ensure that Golden’s building inventory is consistently moving towards the City’s sustainability goals set in 2019. These goals include:

Renewables

  • To achieve 100% renewable energy for electricity by 2030 and 100% renewable for heating by 2050.
  • To align Greenhouse Gas Emission reductions with the Paris Accord by 2050.

Efficiency

  • To reduce consumption of electricity by 15% by 2030 and reduce consumption of natural gas by 15% by 2030.

The Transition to Net Zero

A citizen task force was formed to help prioritize projects, policies and programs relating to Golden's new energy goals. The energy taskforce met three times during 2020 to establish their recommendations, which were presented to the Community Sustainability Advisory Board in January of 2021. Read the full list of task force recommendations. Among those recommendations are strategies to reduce natural gas usage and to improve energy efficiency for non-residential buildings.

Building on these recommendations, the Community Sustainability Advisory Board (CSAB) and Planning Commission (PC) convened a subcommittee in 2021 to identify further potential strategies that are technologically and financially feasible, and needed to achieve the goals. To implement these strategies will take a mix of regulation (building and zoning codes), incentives (financial and code-related), and education. Briefly these include:

  1. New buildings (including residential, administrative and commercial) would be constructed immediately with 100% renewable (carbon-free) energy and without natural gas or other fossil energy sources to avoid substantial and costly retrofits and remodels in the future. Net zero construction is technologically feasible and financially competitive with traditional fossil energy technologies. Furthermore, net zero construction minimizes monthly energy costs, making living expenses in our City more affordable.
  2. Existing buildings in Golden would gradually switch to using renewable energy sources for electricity demand. This can be provided through a combination of Xcel renewable energy, “Community Choice” programs, Community solar garden(s), energy efficiency measures, and onsite renewable energy production / recovery.
  3. New and existing buildings would be constructed and retrofitted to meet energy efficiency requirements. Energy efficiency needs to be coupled with a conversion to renewable energy sources to keep the costs of renewable energy generation systems economical for businesses and homeowners.

CSAB and PC continue to work together to assess recommendations that address environmental and economic impacts of potential code solutions under consideration of social justice and equity. To meet these goals, CSAB and PC have adopted a set of guiding principles.

With goals and guidelines set, City staff requested proposals from experts to assist in creating new energy codes as well as gather feedback from stakeholders.


Energy Code Stakeholder Group

Thank you to all who have applied to share your perspective on pathways to a greener, built environment. The following representatives have been selected to evaluate and develop the strategies outlined above.

  • 2 Planning Commissioners
  • 2 Community Sustainability Advisory Board Members
  • 1 Jeffco Housing Authority/ Affordable Housing Representative
  • 3 Single Family Homeowners
  • 1 Commercial Landord/Owner
  • 1 Local Contractor
  • 1 Commercial & Residential Tenant
  • 1 Building Industry Expert
  • 2 Local Developers

These representatives will help form a roadmap to achieving Golden’s energy goals by 2030 and 2050 that includes immediate actions, identifies trigger points related to the build environment in the community, financial options to lessen the burden of improvements or assisting in the financial planning process, and opportunities for transition to renewable energy and electrified fossil fuel free buildings.

The selected participants will meet Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the following dates:

Recordings of the meetings will be available under "Meeting Recordings" the right-hand side of this page and the City will continue to ask for public feedback as the group moves through its process.

Ask a Question

Do you have a question about the strategies for Golden energy code revisions? Ask them here and a member of the City of Golden staff will provide an answer.  

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    Is the city going to require existing homes to change all of the appliances/furnace, water heater etc.. to electric? Are they talking about new construction or existing homes?

    Goco asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your question!  A decision to require existing homes to convert to electric has not been made. There are a few considerations:

    The adopted sustainability goals do include a target for a fossil-fuel free community by 2050.  Many in the community, among city staff and members of the Community Sustainability Advisory Board and Planning Commission all acknowledge that Golden cannot achieve this goal in the short term. Golden is more than 95% built-out, with homes and businesses that use older, less efficient equipment.  For new homes, the path may be easier to achieve through regulation, but a significant consideration is the impact to affordable housing. It could be costly, to say the least, to convert existing commercial and residential homes to electrified or net zero energy conditions.  The Energy Code Stakeholder Group, led by CSAB and Planning Commission, will evaluate impacts of different paths that could lead the community to net zero.  A path forward will likely require many different actions that include a combination of regulation, financial incentives and some anticipation that future technology will help us achieve the goals. 

    CSAB and Planning Commission have already established some guidelines for what should be considered: new codes should allow for flexibility to owners in how they can comply with any requirements; new codes must be relatively easy to understand and simple for city staff to administer (e.g. it doesn’t require a homeowner to take a class or a team of 15 new city staff); it must quantify the cost impacts to owners who will be required to construct it. (e.g. if the City moves toward electrified water heaters, what is the cost premium for that equipment and all of the associated infrastructure needed to install one? Will there be rebates to offset the increment?) A full list of the guiding principles can be found here. 

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    Please provide a cost benefit analysis specific to the City of Golden for the goals and strategies listed above.

    mhp49 asked 5 months ago

    Thank you for your response! The City has enlisted the help of energy code consultants to create this cost analysis for consideration by the Energy Code Stakeholder group. It will be available on this page in the coming months for public input as well. Additionally, once a set of recommended strategies has been established the City will complete a second analysis to quantify how those specific strategies affect affordable housing situations.

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    Will any code revisions be in effect in time for the CoorsTek project rezoning request (1.3M sq ft)? Does the city have means to impose mandates to that massive project even prior to a code change? It would be terrible to miss an opportunity at that scale and build to outdated codes with poor energy performance, fossil gas use, and lack of EV infrastructure and solar.

    Martin Voelker asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your question! The City’s outreach effort through the Energy Code Stakeholder group is expected to conclude this summer, with potential recommendations being sent to City Council for consideration in the fourth quarter of this year. The CoorsTek rezoning request is currently proposing a vesting plan for several elements of the proposal, including many of the sustainability components. If approved, the vesting plan may supersede future building and zoning code requirements.

    The CoorsTek rezoning includes a request to rezone the parcel to Planned Unit Development (PUD) which allows some flexibility in uses, limitations and requirements.  Interested citizens should convey their comments to Planning Commission or City Council. Additionally, the Community Sustainability Advisory Board and the Planning Commission plan to discuss this topic during their February 23rd meetings. The meetings can be viewed at CityofGolden.net/agendas and additional discussion materials are available in those meeting agendas.

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    Hi - do we know the current electricity and natural gas usage for the City of Golden, including all residental, commercial and city buildings?

    Jsmith2009 asked 6 months ago

    Thank you for your question! Yes, Xcel Energy provides annual city-wide energy reports for electricity and natural gas usage. These reports are released every July for the prior year and available at CityofGolden.net/Energy. Municipal buildings are considered commercial customers by Excel. 

Page last updated: 01 Jul 2022, 02:54 PM