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Need Help with Denver’s HOA Energy Benchmarking – CAP Management’s Sustainability Office is Here!

By now, all HOAs over 25,000 square feet in Denver have been notified that they must complete energy benchmarking requirements for the City of Denver.  By 2026-2027 all HOAs over 5,000 square feet will be required to comply with other energy reduction ordinances in the City – this means you!

Why?  The Citizens of Denver voted to change the law to require drastic reductions in energy use by 2030.  To accomplish this, the City is offering sizable rebates and incentives to electrify heat & water systems through their Building Electrification Pilot Program– up to $90,000 — to offset the cost differential between new gas and new electric equipment. While electrifying a building requires significant upfront investment, electric systems are much more efficient than gas boilers and furnaces, so this transition will lower your energy bills overall. If you haven’t heard of Heat Pump Technology, google it! This technology is becoming more common as electrification efforts grow and will launch America into the next generation of energy production and efficiency. 

What is Energy Benchmarking?  This is the process of measuring and reporting a building’s energy use per square foot.  Most buildings use both electricity (measured in kilowatt-hours, or kWh) and natural gas (measured in therms). That combined energy data is converted to BTUs and measured in the thousands.

So, where do you start as an HOA? Contact Xcel to get a free ASHRAE I Audit of your building’s energy usage. If there are not easy and achievable energy reductions listed in the audit, pay about $10,000 to complete an ASHRAE II Audit which will give you a more comprehensive analysis of building systems that can be changed out to enhance energy efficiency, including boilers, make-up air handler units, hot water heaters, and the like. If there are 100 units in your building, the ASHRAE level II audit comes out to only $100 per unit, and you will now have a roadmap to submit to the City of Denver saying you are on the path to complying with their energy ordinances. This small upfront investment of $100/unit will pay dividends when you see how much money you save in energy bills as a result of the recommended solutions.

Denver skyline at dusk

Huge energy reductions are required by 2030.  HOAs need to show that they are taking steps to comply, even if they cannot actually meet the targets by 2030. An ASHRAE II audit is the perfect way for your HOA to show the City that you are on the road to energy compliance.  As with everything, materials like heat pumps are in short supply and electricians are backed up doing EV Charging Stations. As a result, it’s better to show the City that you’re serious about reducing your energy use, even if you aren’t able to take direct action today.

If you feel your Energy Benchmarking and Targeted Energy Use Reduction is wrong – look at the reported square footage of your HOA. Some HOAs only include the living units, while others only include the common areas. However, combined square footage of both is required to calculate an accurate Energy Use Index. The City is glad to work with you to come up with an accurate number, and this could drastically change your required energy reductions. If an HOA does nothing, the fines are steep.  $0.70 per year for every kTbtu over the target – this is often in the low $100,000s of fines.  Start with an ASHRAE I or II audit to show the City you are moving toward compliance now.

CAP Management can help your HOA meet these targets, even if we don’t manage your HOA.  CAP will consult with HOA Board of Directors to review each community’s energy use performance today.  The goal will be to help associations reduce costs while meeting energy reductions targets for 2024, 2027 and 2030.