While visiting Denver over Memorial Day weekend, I walked from my downtown hotel to the lower downtown area and the South Platte River. I did not expect to see a revitalized waterfront with very busy bicycle paths lining the river along with new apartments and condos.
I had the same experience! I lived in Boulder before from 2005-2007, left, and came back in 2009. On my first trip back to downtown Denver, I was really impressed with the changes. The river is a much more prominent part of the city now thanks to that area, which is called Confluence Park (due to the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek).
Smart growth. Sustainable cities. These terms get tossed around a lot. And, typically, they are used in reference to new buildings and new communities. What about our existing buildings and our aging cities?
Living City Block is taking aim at this question. By combining urban revitalization with a focus on energy-efficiency retrofits and cutting-edge renewable technology, they are trying to set an adoptable standard for urban sustainability.
Raising the bar
Typical building renovations increase energy efficiency by 10 percent. Pretty marginal. If you consider the fact that 80% of the existing buildings in the U.S. will still be in operation 50 years from now, that’s not exactly pushing the envelope to a sustainable future.
What if you could cut the energy consumption of an entire community by half? Even better, what if that community could produce more energy than it consumes?