Stapleton developers recognized by EPA
Denver -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator Robert E. Roberts today presented representatives from Forest City Enterprises, Inc., with an Environmental Achievement Award for vision, superior leadership and skill in redeveloping the former Stapleton International Airport site in Denver into a environmentally friendly, mixed-use development.
Covering more than 4,700 acres, Stapleton is a model of urban reuse and one of the largest “green” communities in the nation. The development employs several key elements of sustainability including: compact mixed-use development, pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, energy-efficient building design and construction, innovative storm water management, preservation of open space, extensive recycling and light pollution mitigation.
“Forest City’s Stapleton development has become synonymous with how to do an urban redevelopment,” said Roberts. “Now a thriving community, its success demonstrates that sustainable homes and communities are marketable assets.”
Compact mixed-use development
Stapleton is a community with an urban density greater than ten units/acre, which allows housing and jobs to be in close proximity to existing city services. This design allows residents easy access to recreational, education, retail, office and transit opportunities. Emphasizing mixed-use zoning throughout, the integrated design promotes a more inviting, walkable community. In the long-term, the community layout will help ensure Stapleton’s ability to accommodate future growth. Furthermore, Stapleton residents and employees will have multiple transportation options – including mass transit, sidewalk and bike paths that will significantly ease traffic congestion and related air-quality issues.
Sustainable building and energy efficiency
Since 2006, all homes built at Stapleton are ENERGY STAR Qualified, the government-backed standard for energy efficiency. Prior to 2006, homes at Stapleton were required to meet the minimum level of energy efficiency outlined in the Built Green Colorado program administered by the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver.
Each ENERGY STAR new home will save $30 to $40 on utility bills each month compared to a new home built to minimum code. In addition, that same ENERGY STAR home will prevent the annual emissions of 2.25 tons of greenhouse gases. Stapleton is the largest community in Colorado and one of the largest master-planned communities in the United States to have 100 percent builder participation in the ENERGY STAR program. To date, over 200 new homes have been built to ENERGY STAR resulting in huge energy savings and significantly less air pollution.
Parks and open space
When complete, Stapleton will increase the amount of Denver City Parks by nearly 30 percent. Park and parkway design, including Stapleton’s 80-acre Central Park, are patterned on historic precedents with an ecological emphasis on native plantings and water-conserving landscapes. In addition to serving as a regional recreational resource for residents of Stapleton and the surrounding communities, the parks and open space system also protects natural areas that support wildlife habitat and native plant communities.
Storm water management and wetlands
Instead of running storm water runoff through underground concrete culverts, Stapleton routes storm runoff through carefully designed “constructed wetlands.” This system uses best management practices to ensure that the water flowing off Stapleton via Westerly Creek and Sand Creek -- as it makes its way to the Platte River -- meets all required water quality guidelines. The stormwater management system also ensures that the rate of runoff does not create bank erosion problems in the receiving water bodies. The wetlands also enhance the quality of the natural areas in Greenway Park and Westerly Creek, creating additional wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities.
Six million tons (1,100 acres) of concrete and asphalt runways from the former airport have been recycled for road base and concrete aggregate for the community. The aggregate has successfully been used in construction projects at Denver International Airport, Buckley Air National Guard Base, E-470, The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge and Bluff Lake Nature Center. It is also being used in roads, alleys, sidewalks, curbs and foundations at Stapleton. Roughly cut blocks of former runway concrete (“Staplestone”) are also used for retention walls throughout the parks and open space system.
At Stapleton, lighting is an important resource that serves both practical and aesthetic needs within the community. Contributing to both visibility and safety, lighting is a key part of creating a walkable community. Stapleton advocates a balanced approach that optimizes lighting benefits while minimizing the negative effects on the community and the environment. The Stapleton Lighting Master Plan is designed to address community safety and functionality needs, promote optimal energy conservation, and prevent common Dark Sky and light pollution issues.
Forest City Enterprises was selected by the City of Denver as the master developer for the redevelopment of the Stapleton International Airport site in 1998. Since that time, the company has worked with the City of Denver, community groups and other partners to oversee planning and infrastructure development and the creation of a mixed-use neighborhood that includes single family homes and apartments, retail businesses, schools, medical facilities, recreational facilities and parks. Stapleton continues to grow, with nearly 8,000 residents expected by fall 2007.
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