Most people go to the park to relax, get away from the hubbub of life and toss a Frisbee in the summer heat. A new project in Denver, called the Denver Sustainability Park, will include all that and host innovative solar, wind and other sustainability features to show and study what’s possible in a city environment. In its scope of incorporating renewable and sustainable projects, it’s relatively unprecedented in the U.S.
The sustainability park is part of Denver’s effort to redevelop the Curtis Park neighborhood, which includes demolishing and rebuilding aspects of the neighborhood. The sustainability park itself was formerly a vacant lot owned by the Denver Housing Authority (DHA). Its redevelopment has already included installing solar-powered LED streetlights and three urban farms. It is being developed through a collaboration with the Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES) and DHA, according to DJ Cardi who’s working with CRES to spearhead the project.
“We don’t want to be too prescriptive and say: ‘This is what we want at the park,’” said CRES Executive Director Tony Frank. The collaborators are issuing a national request for proposals (RFPs) for projects at the park this fall. The RFP will go to companies, venture capitalists and others with unique projects or ideas to submit, according to Frank.
Plans for the site include a photovoltaic installation showcasing different solar technologies using microinverters, so each module can be tested for its effectiveness, according to Cardi. It will also include a solar-powered electric vehicle charging station, potentially micro-wind turbines, bioswales, sustainable buildings—including reused shipping containers—an amphitheater, and the park will host workshops and educational seminars.
“We will partner with a number of schools, institutions, and community groups to develop educational and community outreach programs,” Cardi said. “Denver’s Sustainability Park will also serve as a hands-on resource where students and the community at large come to learn about new renewable energy and green building technologies as well as other strategies that help create strong sustainable urban communities.”
The park will rely on a variety of funding sources.
For instance, the groups are in discussions with Xcel Energy over installing the solar-powered electric vehicle station, he said.
“The success of this park is not what necessarily happens there. It is: Can these projects have a life outside the park? The success will be where else does it go. We don’t want projects to just be at this park,” Frank said.
He said success will be measured by whether or not other neighborhoods will implement similar projects.