Will Voters Agree To Green Roofs In Denver?

By Tom Mustin

DENVER (CBS4)– A grassroots movement to fight air pollution and rising temperatures in the city is moving to the ballot.

The Denver Green Roof Initiative is a plan to fight poor air quality and urban heat island effect – that’s when the city heats up because of excessive amounts of concrete. The group has secured enough signatures to place the issue in front of voters in November.

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(credit: Denver Green Roof Initiative)

Brandon Reitheimer is hoping voters will join his green roof movement.

“I really just wanted to do something that would help our environment and help our city,” he told CBS4’s Tom Mustin.

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CBS4’s Tom Mustin interviews Brandon Reitheimer with the Denver Green Roof Initiative (credit: CBS)

Since November, Brandon and 60 volunteers have pushed a plan to require Denver buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to have rooftop gardens, and/or solar panels.

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(credit: CBS)

The goal is to reduce air pollution and energy costs.

“To help us lower our overall city temperature. Help clean up our air, increase birds and bees. So many benefits,” he said.

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(credit: CBS)

But it’s not easy being green. After 10 months of tireless work, Brandon and his team gathered the nearly 5,000 signatures needed to put the measure on the November ballot.

“It feels really good, said Brandon.

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Brandon Reitheimer with the Denver Green Roof Initiative (credit: CBS)

Several large cities, like Toronto, San Francisco and Chicago, already have green roof plans in place.

Under the Denver plan, existing buildings and non-profits can apply for an exemption.

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(credit: Denver Green Roof Initiative)

Some Denver city builders have balked at the cost of the proposal. Brandon says an investment now will pay dividends in the future

“It costs a little more up front but they last four or five times as long as a traditional roof. They also get the added energy savings.”

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CBS4’s Tom Mustin interviews Andrea Burns with Denver Community Planning and Development (credit: CBS)

Andrea Burns with Denver Community Planning and Development says the city is not ready to take a stand just yet.

“We don’t have a position on this yet,” she told Mustin. “There are a lot of ways to build green. This is one of those ways. We need to consider, ‘Is this something we want to mandate or are there other ways to achieve similar goals?’”

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(credit: CBS)

Meanwhile Brandon says his goal now is to convince voters to go green, “I think it would be beneficial for our city.”

The city says it will evaluate the plan and come up with a position before the November election.

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(credit: CBS)

Tom Mustin is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor. He has been with CBS4 since 2002, and is always looking for great story ideas. Connect with Tom on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @TomCBS4.

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