Design Criteria

Better Boulder often has the opportunity to review development proposals. When reviewing projects, we have a 6-category review template with specific criteria and a scoring metric. These criteria are how we will review projects moving forward.

Each category is given a score from 1-5. The average for a Boulder project is a 3, with scores higher than a 3 being better than average. Since not all categories are applicable to every project (for example, residential or commercial only projects), the score is then normalized into a final grade ranging from 1-100. A 50 is an average Boulder project. Better Boulder will endorse projects only if they have scores higher than average.

As examples, some of the gold standards in Boulder score well on this scale:
Holiday grades out in the mid 80s and Steel Yards in the mid 90s. More recently, projects such as S*Park and Commons score in the high 90s and close to 100, respectively.

Quality of Life

A discretionary category
which measures
how a project contributes
or improves the quality
of life for the users
and surrounding


A measure of how the project encourages multi-modal transportation options, , locates parking away from the street and/or underground, implements TDM strategies including unbundled parking, and reduces area dedicated to off-street parking and pavement.


A metric based on how effective the project is in providing additional, diverse, effective and non-traditional housing options for owners and renters, providing housing in underserved areas and underserved population segments, and providing affordable housing.

Civic Vitality

A measure of how well the project creates a sense of energy, enhances activity and engagement of its users and the surrounding context, encourages walking, and provides a mix of uses. This includes the design quality, especially of the first level as it engages the street and forms the public realm.

Commercial Development Mix

A metric based on how
effective the project is in
regenerating or creating
vibrancy of commercial
areas outside the core of
downtown and the
Pearl Street corridor.

Urban Sustainability

A measure of how far beyond the
City of Boulder baseline
sustainability standards the
project goes, looking at areas such
as energy efficiency, transportation,
water use, urban form, solar energy,
resource use, etc.