Aspen’s chief building official, Stephen Kanipe, to retire |

Aspen’s chief building official, Stephen Kanipe, to retire

Staff report

The Aspen government announced Wednesday that Stephen Kanipe, its chief building official, is retiring.

The city’s search for a successor is underway, with an open house for the community to meet the job candidates set for 3:30 p.m. Jan. 10. A location will be posted on next week, according to the city.

Kanipe joined the city as an entry-level plans examiner in 1989, when the city and county shared the building department.

His legacy includes bringing such Aspen projects as The Little Nell hotel into compliance, and he coordinated the plan reviews and inspections on some of Aspen’s largest buildings such as the Ritz-Carlton, now the St. Regis, and the Highlands Base Village.

“It was like being on the Olympics of building departments because we saw things that only big jurisdictions got to see, but we were doing it here in our little town,” Kanipe said in a statement. “I loved it, and I still love it. Working on Harris Hall, the music tent, the (Aspen Recreation Center), and some very unique houses have all been great experiences during my career.”

Kanipe became the chief building official for the joint city and county building department in 1995. At that time Aspen was beginning to see another round of large and complex buildings being planned. “Everybody took their jobs really seriously before that time, but the complexity of designs and systems that were coming onto the scene in the late ’80s and early ’90s really ramped up our reviews and inspections,” he said.

Kanipe also championed the city’s energy code development, the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program (better known as REMP), and worked to improve processes and find ways to handle the demands of the construction and design community to permit and inspect projects.

Kanipe wrote and reviewed three books on energy code, and under his leadership the city won the Harvard Innovations in Government Award in 2007 for REMP, which was used as a model for governments around the country that have replicated the program. He has spoken around the nation about REMP.

Kanipe was appointed to the International Energy Conservation Code Development Committee and served five years, including two as chair. He also helped develop the International Green Construction Code and the Renewable Energy Membership Advisory Council Solar Rating Certification Council Standards.

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