In November 2022, Denver City Council passed the “Energize Denver” ordinance, which established a phased rollout of restrictions on the installation and replacement of natural gas appliances in commercial buildings and multi-family housing structures in favor of electric alternatives. The ordinance does not require building owners to replace any existing functional gas appliances, but owners and developers will need to pay close attention to additional electrification requirements in the Denver building code as they take effect over the next 5 years. Below is a brief overview of when and how some of these restrictions will apply to current buildings and future construction. Click here for the full language of the ordinance.
Existing Commercial and Multi-Family Structures:
March 1, 2023: Replacing Defunct Gas Appliances with New Gas Appliances is Permitted, but is No Longer the “Path of Least Resistance.”
Prior to March 1, 2023, Denver’s regulations contained a disincentive for commercial building owners to replace gas equipment with electric alternatives by providing a streamlined permitting process for gas replacements and requiring a more onerous application process for electric appliances. Denver has now inverted the status quo by making the process of replacing appliances with new gas-powered units significantly more tedious.
As of March 1st, owners who wish to replace unitary air conditioners, condensing units, or gas-fired space and water heating equipment with new gas-powered equipment must submit their proposals to Community Planning and Development for review prior to permitting (unless a gas-fired boiler is being replaced with a boiler of the same “type”). Additionally, when replacing a gas-fired furnace or water heater with another gas-powered appliance, owners will find that the permitting process now requires additional testing, reporting, and equipment compliance with new green compatibility metrics. The City may grant certain exceptions for emergency replacements.
January 1, 2025: Defunct Gas Appliances Must be Replaced with Fully or Partially Electric Appliances.
Exterior gas-fired warm air furnaces in need of replacement must be replaced with, or become supplemental to, a primary electric heating system. Storage and instantaneous water heaters may only be replaced with electric alternatives. If a gas-fired boiler for water or space heating is replaced with another gas-fired boiler, additional reporting and testing requirements will apply. The City will grant limited economic hardship exemptions from these requirements on a case-by-case basis.
January 1, 2027: At Least 50% of a Building’s Water and Space Heating Needs Must be Met Using Electric Equipment.
Owners must replace defunct gas-fired boilers for water or space heating such that 50% or more of the building’s water or heating needs are met using electric equipment. When an electrically-operated single unit air conditioner is proposed to be replaced, the air conditioner must be replaced with electric equipment that provides both heating and cooling. The City will grant limited economic hardship exemptions from these requirements on a case-by-case basis.
New Commercial and Multi-Family Construction:
January 1, 2024: Gas Furnaces and Water Heaters Will Not be Allowed in New Construction.
Builders, owners and developers willing to go all-electric before the mandate rolls out in 2024 are eligible to apply for certain funding incentives from the City. $5,000 – $25,000 per project may be available for architectural firms, MEP firms, and builders willing to draft as-built drawings for an all-electric building which can serve as an example for future projects. Additionally, $10,000 – $75,000 of funding may be available to builders and property owners interested in constructing a new project which can serve as an all-electric pilot or demonstration building.