State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Boulder, CO

Scored out of 250Updated 05/2024
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 8 out of 10 points
Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Boulder's Climate Commitment draft report contains a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.   We did not collect information on the extent of stakeholder involvement in the setting of the 2050 goal.

Last updated: October 2015

Equity-Driven Approaches to Clean Energy Planning, Implementation, and EvaluationList All

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether relevant decision-makers have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting engagement for multiple clean energy initiatives with marginalized groups compared to engagement with other city constituencies.

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

We were unable to determine if the city has created a formal role for marginalized community residents or local organizations representing those communities to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

Accountability to Equity

We were unable to determine whether the city has adopted specific goals, metrics, or protocols to track how multiple energy, sustainability, or climate action initiatives are affecting local marginalized groups. 

Last updated: August 2020

Clean Distributed Energy ResourcesList All

There are no district energy systems in Boulder.  Boulder’s combined heat and power capacity is 114,000 kW, meaning that the CHP capacity per 100,000 residents is 117 MW. 

Last updated: October 2015

Adaptive Mitigation List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

We could not verify if the city has adopted a quantifiable urban heat island mitigation goal.

UHI Policies and Programs

Boulder has an urban forestry program whose activities include a ten-year pruning rotation, planting trees, and a public education campaign on proper tree selection and maintenance of public trees.  Also, the city has a tree planting requirement for new and re-developments and the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan has policies to mitigate the heat island effect, including a strategy to promote environmentally sensitive urban design.

Last updated: August 2020

Buildings Policies
Score: 21 out of 29 points
Building Energy CodesList All

The State of Colorado is a home rule state meaning local jurisdictions may set their own building codes for both residential and commercial construction. Localities which choose to set a building code must comply with the 2003 IECC at a minimum. To learn more about the building energy codes for the State of Colorado, please visit the State Policy Database.


The City of Boulder has established the IECC 2012/ASHRAE 90.1-2010 as the required commercial building energy code. The city amended the code to require a 30% increase in performance requirements. At this time, Boulder has not begun to advocate at the state level for increased stringency in building energy codes.


The City of Boulder has established the 2012 IECC along with the Green Building Green Points Program as the required residential building energy code. At this time, Boulder has not begun to advocate at the state level for increased stringency in building energy codes.

Last Updated: January 2017

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

Boulder reported a budget of $6,000,000 for the building code department in 2013. This level of spending normalizes to $46.67 per $1,000 of residential construction spending for the city. Boulder requires HERS ratings for new residential homes and a COMCheck for commercial buildings under 20,000 sq. ft. Third-party verification of energy efficiency requirements are also required for commercial buildings over 20,000 sq. ft. Boulder provides developers and project specialists with a pre-application conference with city planners as upfront code support.

Last Updated: October 2015

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Through Boulder's EnergySmart DSM program, businesses and property owners can benchmark their buildings for free. The 2015 Building Performance Ordinance requires commercial properties to benchmark their energy use. In Boulder, only licensed rental properties in the residential sector have required benchmarking.

Last Updated: October 2015

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

Building Energy Savings Goals

Boulder has not yet published an energy-intensity reduction target for its private buildings.

Green Building Requirements

Boulder has not yet established above-code building requirements for any class of building.

Energy Audit and Retrofit Requirements

Through the Smart Regs program, Boulder requires single and multi-family rental homes to reach a certain level of energy efficiency by 2019. If compliance is not achieved, retrofits are then required.

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings

Home and business owners are eligible for loans through EnergySmart that can be used on energy efficiency projects. 

Last Updated: October 2015

Score: 12.5 out of 28 points
Location Efficiency List All

Boulder has not yet implemented location efficient zoning codes to be used across the city or in any specific neighborhood. The city allows one or more parking space per residential unit. Boulder adopted its complete streets policy in 2008, through the Transportation Master Plan. The adoption of the guidelines encourages the inclusion of complete streets principles in all road construction and maintenance projects. As an incentive to promote location-efficient real estate development, Boulder provides density bonuses in certain zoning districts where growth is anticipated.

Last Updated: October 2015

Mode Shift List All

Transportation and Land Use Planning

To improve integration of transportation and land use planning, Boulder’s Transportation Master Plan has the codified goal of holding the VMT steady at 1994 levels. Boulder is on track through various programs to achieve this goal.

Car and Bicycle Sharing

There is a car sharing programs currently available to the residents and visitors of Boulder, eGO carshare. The city is served by a bikesharing program, Boulder B-cycle.

Transportation Demand Management Programs

To reduce the frequency of single-occupancy trips, Boulder offers The Eco Pass, a discounted annual bus pass purchased by employers and universities for all full-time employees and students, with an option to include part-time employees. GO Boulder’s Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program offers customized Commute Trip Reduction programs for any Boulder business seeking to reduce vehicle trips by their employees. Way to GO is a regional ridematching program that helps employers, employees, residents, and parents form carpools, vanpools, and school pools

Last Updated: October 2015

Public Transit List All

The GoBoulder transit system that serves Boulder received $1,247,174,724 in total funding in 2013. This funding level is $476 per resident in the service territory of the agency. We did not find funding made available from city funding sources only.

The Transit Connectivity Index measures how many transit rides are available per week within walking distance from the average household. The City of Boulder’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 19,296, putting it in a high mid-range category (10,000 - 20,000) available in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: October 2015

Efficient VehiclesList All

At this time, Boulder does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles. The Boulder Smart Grid Plug-In Electric/Hybrid Vehicles Project works to increase the use of plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles in Boulder. The city abides by Colorado's anti-idling policy. Bouder actively engages with the Denver Metro Clean Cities Coalition, which works to reduce petroleum use in all transportation across the region.

Last Updated: October 2015

Freight System EfficiencyList All

There are no intermodal freight facilities within the city of Boulder’s boundaries. 

Last Updated: October 2015

Community Energy Infrastructure
Score: 10.5 out of 18 points
Community Energy Infrastructure Summary List All

Xcel, an Investor-Owned Utility (IOU), is the primary electric and natural gas utility serving the city of Boulder. The State of Colorado requires spending and savings targets for its utilities through an EERS as well as efficiency requirements within Demand Side Management plans to be filed annually.  To learn more about the state-requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Colorado page of the State Database.

Boulder Water Utilities Division is the municipal utility which provides drinking water, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management services to the City of Boulder.

Last Updated: October 2015

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

According to EIA, in 2013, Xcel spent $63,485,000 on electric efficiency programs, representing 2.27% of its annual revenue. Due to these programs, Xcel reported a net incremental electricity savings of 357,245MWh, representing 1.24% of its retail sales. In the same year, Xcel reported spending $13,643,000 on gas efficiency programs according to the 2013 Annual report (Docket 11A-631EG). The expenditures normalize to $11.24 per residential customer. Spending on electricity and natural gas represented in this section covers the entire Colorado service territory, not just Boulder. Xcel offers natural gas and electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

The Colorado Energy Office partners with Xcel to provide additional rebates through the Recharge Colorado program. The City of Boulder advocates to the State PUC for additional spending and savings requirements by participating in the docket process for DSM programs.

Last Updated: October 2015

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

In order for customers to access their own energy data, Xcel makes use of the Green Button data sharing platform. Whole-building aggregated data can be obtained by building managers obtaining individual consent forms from all tenants and aggregating consumption data themselves. The City of Boulder has access to community-wide electricity and natural gas usage information in the form of standard reports that are subject to the California “15/15 Rule.” To advocate for polices requiring utilities to expand the availability and granularity of energy usage data, Boulder collaborates with other local governments to recommend that the PUC and Xcel Energy authorize whole-building aggregated data, adopt Green Button or other national data standards, and provide additional data related to energy services (such as participation in energy efficiency programs). The city also worked through the Colorado PUC dockets to help change data privacy rules and expect changes to go into effect at the end of 2015.

Last Updated: October 2015

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

Boulder has set a goal to reduce water use by 20% from 2000 levels by 2035. Boulder Water Utilities offers a Water Conservation Program including a Toilet "Freebate," rebates for drip kits and timers, xeriscaping garden seminars, low-cost xeriscaping plants called "Garden-in-a-box”, free outdoor irrigation audits and free commercial water assessments. The Water Conservation Program also supports municipal water conservation efforts and analyzes city water loss information.

Energy Efficiency and Self-Generation

Boulder has set an energy efficiency goal for water services in municipal operations in the energy performance contract. Since 2000, Boulder has reduced energy use in municipal water operations by 25%. There are methane recapture facilities on Boulder’s wastewater treatment plants.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

Boulder has implemented a stormwater charge/flood management fee for all multifamily housing to fund the city’s flood and stormwater utility fund.   Stormwater efforts include a requirement for education and outreach and public involvement in addition to inspection/enforcement.  The Keep It Clean Partnership effort which focus on stormwater outreach and education as managed by the city. 

Last Updated: October 2015

Local Government Score:
12 out of 15 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

Boulder's Climate Commitment draft report contains a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. We did not collect information on the extent of stakeholder involvement in the setting of the 2050 goal. 

Last updated: October 2015

Procurement and Construction Policies List All

Vehicle Fleets and Infrastructure

We did not find information on fleet fuel efficiency requirements or implemented anti-idling or right-sizing policies.  Boulder has installed 11 Level electric-vehicle charging stations with four that are available for public use. 

Public Lighting

In 2003, the Boulder City Council approved an outdoor lighting ordinance requiring non-compliant lighting fixtures to be replaced by August 15, 2018.  In its 2016 Capital Improvement Program, the city has allocated funding to replace its outdoor lights with compliant lights..  A new city-owned streetlight system currently under construction will turn on lights at a programmed time and dim them during period of low traffic. 

New Buildings and Equipment

Municipal construction follows local building code requirements which mandate a 30% increase in energy efficiency above the IECC 2006 at minimum.  Also, there is a goal in Boulder’s Master Plan calling for the city's new construction and major reconstruction to achieve at least LEED Silver Certification, but we do not know if this has been implemented.  The city has had an Environmental Purchasing Policy in place since 2002 that requires certain products, such as copy paper and business cards, to be purchased from recycled content.

Last updated: October 2015

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

While a benchmarking policy is not in place, Boulder still benchmarks 28 facilities that make up 80% of the city’s total energy use.  Boulder’s Facilities and Asset Management Division monitors energy use in city facilities and is tasked with ensuring that new facilities and reconstruction projects are designed to minimize overall capital, maintenance, and energy costs.  Since 2009, Boulder has completed several energy-efficiency upgrades at municipal facilities, including switching to energy efficient lighting and installing efficient HVAC systems.

Public Employees

Boulder permits its city employees to telework at the discretion of their city departments.  

Last updated: October 2015