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By Elise Schmelzer

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Denver’s new mandates for building electrification earned the city the second-place spot in a new ranking of the country’s top cities with climate-friendly policies.

A report set for release Tuesday by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy compared policies from 75 cities across the country. Analysts compared rules in five categories: building policies, community-wide initiatives, transportation policies, community energy infrastructure and local government operations.

Denver was one of just two non-coastal cities to make the top 10. The nonprofit awarded first place to San Francisco for the second year in a row.

Of the 75 cities analyzed, 11 had implemented building performance standards aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Denver’s “stringent” policies for buildings made it the top city in that category and was what helped propel the city toward the top of the list, according to the report.

The policies, in part, mandate that most commercial and multifamily residential buildings replace gas-powered appliances, heaters and air conditioners with electric appliances as older equipment is decommissioned. New multifamily and commercial buildings must also have water and heating systems that are partially electric.

Denver will implement more changes starting in 2027.

Those building policies, however, have prompted a federal lawsuit by a coalition of building owners, alleging that policies set by the city and the state violate federal regulations. The policies will force building owners to make expensive and unnecessary upgrades, says the lawsuit, which was filed last week.

Denver was one of only seven cities that earned points for having programs that help low-income households electrify.

The top 10 cities, by highest ranking, are:

• San Francisco

• Denver

• Seattle

• Los Angeles

• Oakland, Calif.

• Minneapolis

• New York City

• Portland, Ore.

•San Jose, Calif.

•Washington, D.C.

The authors of the report said they hoped it would provide a road map for progress for cities to follow.

“All cities, even those ranked in the top 10, have considerable opportunity to improve,” the report states.

 

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