Residential high rises

Coloradoans are proud of their state’s efforts to help the environment, and Colorado is widely considered an environmentally-friendly state. Colorado consistently ranks in the top-ten for LEED-certified buildings, and the state has made a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 35% by 2030. A new building in Boulder further puts Coloradans’ money where their mouth is. The state’s first multitenant, mixed-use development NetZero Energy (NZE) building recently opened in Boulder and is attracting new tenants to lease the space.

NZE buildings, as their name implies, produce as much energy as they consume, reducing the building’s overall carbon footprint compared to traditional construction. Colorado already ranks fourth in net-zero energy building creation as ranked by the New Buildings Institute. The new NZE is located approximately two miles from Downtown Boulder.

The project is known as Boulder Commons, and it will bring 100,000 square feet of new living, shopping, and multi-use space to Boulder. The building is both the first project of scale and size in the state and was only feasible after the developers figured out a way to make the building practical and affordable.

Morgan Creek Ventures, the developer behind Boulder Commons, worked with current tenant Rocky Mountain Institute, as well as legal firm Holland & Hart to develop the unique structure. The unique lease developed by the group asks tenants to actively contribute to the building’s net-zero energy policy. Tenants have an energy “budget” and are charged a fee to pay for offset credits if they go over their allotment. This system gives incentive for tenants to meet the net-zero cause and allows Rocky Mountain Institute control over-allotments.

When the building knows how much energy will be used, they can use set the building’s energy-producing mechanisms like solar panels to produce the proper amount of power with no waste. The Rocky Mountain Institute estimates developers can see a 19% increase in profit by following the net-zero operational standards.

The one-of-a-kind building is setting the blueprint for future development and how NZE can be appealing to potential tenants, developers, and city councils. How tenants respond and how alluring the green building style can be will be seen as more developers turn to the unique agreements.