Options for Solar Exemptions in Denver

Solar Solutions

Denver's new energy code aims for residential electrification to meet 2030 climate goals, posing challenges in solar installation compliance. 

Solar Solutions
Published May 16, 2024

Challenges and Opportunities 

Denver recently enacted a new energy code for all new residential construction. The jurisdiction is pushing hard for electrification, which is critical to meeting our 2030 climate goals. The city is now at the forefront of energy conservation building codes, but new challenges have emerged with the code change. Homes are now required to install no less than 7.2 kbtu/yr (2.1 kWh/yr) or 0.12 ft2 solar per square foot of conditioned floor area (or 0.04 ft2 if they have a heat pump for space conditioning or water heating).

Here are EnergyLogic's recommendations for Denver builders trying to eliminate the additional cost of installing solar while still meeting the Denver Energy Code: 

Option 1: All-Electric Property 

All-electric properties must have heat pumps for space conditioning and water heating and gas fireplaces or cooktops are not allowedOne benefit of this path is if homes meet ENERGY STAR® v3.2, Indoor airPLUSTM, DOE ZERH (Zero Energy Ready Home), and ENERGY STAR NextGen and do not have gas lines to the property, they qualify for a $10,000 builder rebate from Xcel. Homes that meet the Denver Energy Code already must meet most of the requirements for these programs, so it is mostly a matter of dialing in specs and completing checklists to pursue this $10k rebate. 

Option 2: ERI (Energy Rating Index) Path 

Following Section R406 in the Denver Energy Code meets exception 3 by achieving a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) score of 45 or better (5 points lower than the required HERS 50 for mixed-fuel homes). We believe this to be the most cost-effective path, though it does not provide any builder rebates. 

Option 3: 31 Points on the R408.1 Table 

Following Section R401.2.1 and meeting exception 2 (18 credits from Table R408.1 + 13 additional credits for a total of 31 credits from the table). This option requires planning from an early stage, and several of the items on the table are cost-prohibitive for many builders (High-Performance Heat Recovery Ventilation and Premium Space Conditioning/Cooling can increase costs by several thousand dollars). Please see the table below and feel free to use our scoring tool that calculates total points as you check items on the table. 

Option 4: Performance Path 

Section R405 in the Denver Energy Code requires cost-compliance to be 18% better than the reference home. To meet exception 4, it must be an additional 9% better than the reference home, for a total of 27% better than the reference home.  

Option 5: Prescriptive/Total UA Path

For this path, builders must complete the Denver approved REScheck form to calculate the target and as-modeled UA based on their amended UA table and document how they will follow it during the permit process.  

Talk with EnergyLogic

If you have questions, would like to learn more, or would like to discuss which solar options might work best for you, please reach out to EnergyLogic today!

About the Author
Ryan Gilbert

Ryan Gilbert

Ryan is a Business Development Manager at EnergyLogic. A passionate environmentalist at heart, Ryan is on a personal mission to help raise the standards of energy efficiency in homes. Learn more about Ryan.

Dive In!

Access the data behind our market analysis.
Explore the Housing Tides Interface.
Permit forecasts, media analysis, and more!

Follow Market Tides

EnergyLogic Corporate Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *