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Colorado Gap Analysis Report

Colorado Gap Analysis Report

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10/15/2013

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Both cities and counties in Colorado adopt energy codes. County codes apply to unincorporated areas,
which account for 27 percent of the population.41

Although it varies somewhat by jurisdiction, the
adoption process in most cities in Colorado follows this established procedure: After the release of the
latest editions of the model energy codes, building department officials or a building code advisory
board consisting of building professionals review the energy code (along with the other building codes,
in the case of the I-Codes), sometimes at the behest of the city council or mayor’s office. The
department or board then presents its recommendations to the city council at a public hearing, at which
point the city council reviews any input from stakeholders, consults with the building department or
board on amendments as needed, holds another meeting, and votes on the adoption. For county
adoption, the process is much the same, and the board of county commissioners makes the final ruling
on whether to adopt the proposed building codes.

This process often takes months, particularly in larger jurisdictions, and consists of many meetings and
back-and-forth work to modify the proposals. One way in which jurisdictions can improve the efficiency
of this process is to establish a review board. The City of Thornton established a Building Code Advisory
Board, consisting of five building professionals from different trades. Working with relevant city officials,

Colorado Gap Analysis

24

the Board reviews the city’s adopted building codes and the most recent iterations of the national codes
and then makes recommendations for adoption to the City Council. This process establishes a pattern
that gets repeated each codes cycle, increases trust between all the involved parties, and reduces the
need for additional intervention and negotiation.

Some communities choose to establish a regional building inspection department. The Pikes Peak
Regional Building Department was created by an agreement between the City of Colorado Springs, El
Paso County, and the outlying cities of Fountain, Green Mountain Lake, Manitou Springs, Monument,
and Palmer Lake. A commission of elected officials manages the department, and multiple committees
advise the commission on building code issues, including adoption. The commission makes
recommendations to the Colorado Springs City Council and the El Paso County Board of County
Commissioners, and both bodies must approve the proposals for them to take effect.42

The regional
model allows communities to pool resources and increase efficiency and gives smaller towns access to
the greater resources available in neighboring cities.

Other examples include the Pueblo Regional Building Department, which serves the City and County of
Pueblo, the Mesa County Building Department, which serves Grand Junction, Fruita, Debeque, Collbran,
and Palisades, as well as unincorporated areas within Mesa County, and the Routt County Regional
Building Department, which serves all communities in the county except the Town of Hayden.

Many Colorado jurisdictions exercise their right to amend national building codes to better serve local
needs. According to code officials interviewed, the changes are most often administrative and do not
affect building energy performance. However, sometimes jurisdictions modify or remove existing
requirements or add their own amendments to either increase or decrease code stringency.

One example is the City of Fort Collins, which has put together a stakeholder group to create a series of
amendments to the 2009 I-codes. The amendments will seek to ratchet up the efficiency beyond the
2009 IECC and include a number of greening amendments related to resource efficiency, water
efficiency, indoor air quality, and other issues. The group plans to make their recommendations to the
city council in spring of 2011. Conversely, the Pike’s Peak Regional Building Department is considering
amendments to the 2009 IECC that would reduce the stringency of some insulation R-values and
encourage the prescriptive path, rather than the performance path.43

Several communities in the state, such as Parker, Aspen, Thornton, Fort Collins, and Jefferson County,
are led by energy code champions who have pushed for the adoption of the model energy codes or
above-code programs, code amendments, and practices. Through trade associations and other
interactive avenues, these leaders can support energy code adoption and help cultivate new champions
in municipalities that have not yet taken the steps to reduce energy use and save their citizens and
businesses money.

Colorado Gap Analysis

25

Figure 3. IECC Adoption in Colorado by Population

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