With the sun finally heating up Colorado, so are the architectural requests by residents in homeowners’ associations (“HOAs”). Like solar panels and windmills, Colorado law regulates unreasonable restrictions by HOAs on “energy efficiency measures.”

The Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (“CCIOA”), at C.R.S. 38-33.3-106.7, defines an energy efficiency measure as “a device or structure that reduces the amount of energy derived by fossil fuels that is consumed by a residence or business located on real property.” CCIOA specifically limits “energy efficiency measures” to include only the following items and devices:


● An awning, shutter, trellis, ramada, or other shade structure that is marketed for the purpose of reducing energy consumption;

● A garage or attic fan and any associated vents or louvers;

● An evaporative cooler;

● An energy-efficient outdoor lighting device, including without limitation a light fixture containing a coiled or straight florescent light bulb, and any solar recharging panel, motion detector, or other equipment connected to the lighting device; and

● A retractable clothesline. 


Regardless of what the governing documents say, HOAs are not permitted to “effectively prohibit the installation or use” of these items and devices. However, associations are permitted to adopt reasonable aesthetic provisions (more commonly known as “architectural guidelines”) that govern “the dimensions, placement or external appearance of an energy efficiency measure.”


In determining whether the aesthetic provisions are reasonable, an association must take into consideration: “(I) the impact on the purchase price and operating costs of the energy efficiency measure; (II) the impact on the performance of the energy efficiency measure; and (III) The criteria contained in the governing documents of the common interest community.”


HOAs are also permitted to adopt and enforce “bona fide safety requirements, consistent with an applicable building code or recognized safety standard, for the protection of persons and property.” 


HOAs should be aware that owners do not have the right to place an energy efficiency measure on property that is:


● Owned by another person;

● Leased, except with the permission of the lessor;

● Collateral for a commercial loan – except with permission of the secured party; or

A limited common element or general common element of an association. That means owners in condominium associations will have a difficult time installing energy efficiency measures without first obtaining permission from the association. 


If your association needs assistance with drafting or reviewing architectural guidelines relating to energy efficiency measures, our attorneys are available to provide legal assistance.  You can contact us by calling 303-863-1870 or email me at mfoley-healy@wlpplaw.com.


Oh and one last thing – if you have the ability to put up a retractable clothesline, it’s bad form to leave your knickers hanging on the line for days at a time!