- Colorado’s Air Quality Commission established new energy performance standards for large buildings Aug. 17 to achieve greenhouse gas emissions reductions for certain commercial, multifamily and public buildings.
- The standards require buildings 50,000 square feet and larger to meet certain targets for energy use or emissions reductions to achieve building-sector-wide carbon emissions reductions of 7% by 2026 and 20% by 2030 from a 2021 baseline.
- Critics of the new standards cited compliance cost estimates of more than $2.55 billion for owners by 2030, but the commission said the action was necessary and that the standards will provide flexibility for building owners.
The new standards, named Regulation 28, apply to approximately 8,000 buildings in Colorado. An economic impact analysis performed by the Colorado Energy Office as part of the rulemaking process estimates the state will see $6.4 billion in economic benefits between 2024 and 2050 from implementation. The energy office said this calculation is based on estimates that Colorado could receive approximately $3 in energy bill savings for every $1 invested in building efficiency.
Colorado’s Air Quality Commission says Regulation 28, developed by the state health department’s Air Pollution Control Division, is intended to help the state meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50% statewide by 2030. That target was set in its 2021 greenhouse gas pollution reduction road map. The state is working on an updated road map, which is expected to include an updated inventory of emissions and a new set of near-term actions to guide implementation of emission-reduction strategies.
Buildings that do not currently meet the standards have compliance options related to optimizing energy usage and reducing emissions. The pathways built into the rule to help buildings meet the standards include repairing or replacing inefficient equipment or systems, drawing on renewable energy sources and installing efficient electric appliances and heating and cooling systems, the Air Quality Commission said.
Despite earning commission approval in a 6-1 vote, Regulation 28 has received strong objection from building owners and operators, who say the standard unfairly burdens existing buildings. Opponents also have highlighted that the standards apply retroactively, unlike those in many other states, according to the Denver Gazette.
The commission said owners who can not meet standards may request target and timeline adjustments through the Colorado Energy Office. Owners also can apply for local, statewide and federal grants, tax credits and incentives to offset efficiency upgrades, the commission said, adding that the energy office is compiling financial assistance options which it plans to make available within the next few weeks.
State-level funding options include tax credits for heat pumps, the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program and the Colorado Clean Energy Fund, which recently announced below-market interest rate financing for commercial LED upgrades.
The building performance standards follow the final release of Colorado’s new statewide energy codes in June, which require municipalities to ensure new buildings can accommodate electric vehicle charging and solar panels. Both sets of codes coincide with a nationwide push to increase energy efficiency and accommodate renewable energy infrastructure.
“Reducing pollution from large buildings is essential to meet our greenhouse gas pollution reduction targets and ensure that the state’s existing buildings are ready for Colorado’s clean energy future,” Will Toor, Colorado Energy Office executive director, said in the release.