Developer gets nod from greens
A bell tower at Kimball Junction could soon lure motorists from Interstate 80 into bowling a few frames at Newpark Town Center.
Meanwhile, builders expect an electronics store like Best Buy to anchor nearly 170,000 square-feet of new retail development slated at the edge of the Swaner Nature Preserve.
Offices at Newpark will house the North American headquarters for Rossignol while Newpark developer Jim Doilney hopes his hotel, amphitheater and sun calendar plaza attract lodging guests before they make it to Old Town.
By squeezing the nearly 820,000 square-feet of new residential and commercial projects onto 38 acres south in I-80, Doilney says his Newpark Town Center will be certified for green planning and building.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system is recognized among sustainable development nationwide as the "Good Housekeeping Seal," according to Doilney.
Achieving certification means builders at Newpark have shown their project preserves the environment while providing energy conservation and connectivity through neighborhoods, said Erin Leitch, the project manager overseeing Newpark’s LEED certification.
"This is the first national standard for neighborhood design," she said. "People are abreast in one or two issues but not really attacking it comprehensively. LEED tries to address these issues comprehensively so that we can say that this is truly a sustainable development or that this is truly a green building."
Developed by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council, LEED provides benchmarks for the design, construction and operation of green buildings, Doilney explained.
"For example, at Newpark, for every acre of site development they have dedicated 4.5 acres of open space," according to Leitch, who works for Domani, the Denver-based firm evaluating Newpark.
To qualify for LEED certification Newpark is evaluated in three categories: location and community linkage, neighborhood pattern and design and the use of green technology in construction.
"Density is probably the biggest single factor that is contributing to Newpark’s sustainability because of the proximity to all of the amenities that are being built in the development," Leitch said. "The walkability is also contributing to a reduced automobile dependence The sidewalks are continuous throughout the neighborhood, they don’t abruptly stop."
Fixtures at Newpark are designed to reduce light pollution, Doilney said.
"That’s why the skies are dark above Newpark," he added.
Still, LEED certifiers under fire in the past have had to explain how they can remain objective when builders are providing their paychecks, Leitch acknowledged.
"It’s an ethical question. [Doilney is] paying me but I also have to make sure that I’m doing my ethical duty to the USGBC," she said, admitting, "there are no inspectors."
Doilney insists Newpark is subject to audits by Leitch.
"Would Sierra Club, National Resources Defense Council, all these different institutions already have their name associated with the certification?" he asked. "You’ve had to meet a collaborative standard."
But Doilney criticized the LEED program for not evaluating the impacts created by individual condominiums.
"I’m really upset that they don’t evaluate the energy, water and traffic impacts per unit," he complained. "This doesn’t account for what you actually use, energy wise."
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