Front Range

Parks and Recreation

Denver’s newest green space showcases the future of urban development. 

May 2012

The latest addition to Denver’s fleet of city parks isn’t the typical playground: You won’t find volleyball games or toddlers climbing jungle gyms here. A few years ago, when the faltering economy derailed an apartment project east of downtown, the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) transformed the blighted land into experimental open space. The idea: Create an outdoor laboratory to test sustainable building practices for future projects. The result—Denver’s Sustainability Park—opens this month.  

The 2.7-acre block at 25th and Lawrence streets, owned by the DHA and managed by the Colorado Renewable Energy Society, is home to pilot projects like LED streetlights, three urban farms, and sidewalks built from recycled materials. “There are so many ideas out there in sustainable technology,” says DHA development program manager Chris Spelke. “We can attract brilliant minds and test things here so we know which technologies we can use, and at the same time provide food, education, and jobs to the neighborhood.” denversustainabilitypark.org

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THE WORKS

1. Recycling

Paths inside the park are made with concrete from demolished sidewalks. Walkways around the perimeter of the park are made from recycled rubber.

2. Food 

The park is home to a nonprofit-run urban farm, which employs local teens to grow and distribute produce to restaurants and farmers markets. 

3. Conservation

A xeriscaped rooftop garden display will provide homeowners with an example they can replicate. A xeriscaped roof helps cut heating bills by cooling homes, and also conserves space and water.

4. Illumination

The city’s first LED- and solar panel–powered streetlights use a fraction of the energy consumed by their conventional counterparts and will reduce maintenance costs. The LED bulbs last up to 30 years. 

5. Charging

Fuel up your hybrid or electric-powered vehicle at one of the city’s first electric car charging stations. 

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250Number of parks in the Mile High City, which, combined, cover an area about the size of 3,000 football fields.