Bill to reduce ozone pollution from buildings, advance clean lighting heads to governor’s desk

Media Contacts


MEDIA CONTACT: Kirsten Schatz, CoPIRG clean air advocate

DENVER – With less than a month until the start of our next ozone season, a bill that will reduce ozone pollution from buildings and end toxic lighting has passed the legislature. Sponsored by Representatives Kipp and Willford and Senators Cutter and Winter, HB23-1161, “Environmental Standards for Appliances,” now heads to Gov. Polis for signature.

By updating emissions and energy efficiency standards for certain appliances, the new law is expected to cut air pollution, reduce energy and water waste and save consumers money. The bill also includes a “clean lighting” provision to phase out the sale of light bulbs containing toxic mercury. A typical school with four-foot linear lighting would see about $24,000 in lifecycle savings by switching from mercury-containing fluorescents to LEDs, while a typical office would see about $6,000 in savings

Just the third state in the nation to pass a clean lighting policy, advocates are hopeful that Colorado’s new law will build momentum for other states and businesses to follow suit, building support for a global agreement to phase out mercury-containing lighting.

CoPIRG Clean Air Advocate Kirsten Schatz released the following statement:

“The cleanest, cheapest kilowatt-hour of energy is the one we don’t even use in the first place. By updating efficiency and emissions standards for certain appliances, this new law will cut harmful air pollution, reduce energy and water waste and save consumers money. It also contains a clean lighting policy to remove toxic mercury from lighting. We should not continue to use this toxin to light our homes and businesses when non-toxic, affordable alternatives that can last twice as long and cut energy use in half are available.

By setting standards for the amount of ozone-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions produced by common furnaces and water heaters and increasing the efficiency of many other appliances, this bill has the potential to prevent hundreds of tons of ozone-forming pollution each year. Colorado has a serious ozone problem that affects our health and quality of life, so it’s important we use every tool available – such as reducing pollution from the buildings we live and work in– to prevent ozone-forming pollution from entering our air in the first place. 

When our next ozone season arrives in just 28 days, we’ll be reminded that every pound of pollution we prevent matters for our health and quality of life.

This bill also advances clean lighting. Fluorescent lights contain mercury, a potent and persistent neurotoxin. Given the availability of nontoxic and more efficient options, phasing out mercury-containing fluorescent lighting is a sensible step that will eliminate toxics from the waste stream, reduce energy waste and save consumers money.”

Reducing pollution from buildings is among the nine actions in CoPIRG’s Ozone Agenda, a package of policy ideas that address ozone across multiple sectors – from buildings to transportation to oil & gas to lawn & garden equipment and more. 

In recent years, Colorado has suffered from some of the highest ozone pollution in the country. Breathing ozone can cause harmful health effects including lung damage, worsening of existing respiratory conditions such as asthma and cardiovascular disease