CNU Charter Award latest accolade for LEED-ND project
Praise continues to pour in for the Mariposa LEED for Neighborhood Development project as the construction process reaches the halfway point. The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) awarded an honorable mention to the Denver, Colorado development during this year’s Charter Awards selection process. Noting the community-focused bike-sharing program and the increase in both housing density and green spaces, CNU commended the Denver Housing Authority, the developer, and Mithun, the firm that created the master plan, for the development.
As Mariposa transforms from the former South Lincoln public housing project into an economically thriving and easily accessible mixed-use development, observers continue to laud the project for its equitable and health-conscious design elements. The LEED-ND rating system focuses on improving the physical and mental heath of residents through better access to open spaces and recreational facilities in addition to neighborhood design that facilitates an active lifestyle. With “B-Cycle” bikes and free light rail passes available, residents should expect a decrease in pollution from motor vehicles and an increase in pedestrian and bicycle activity. Consultants at Mithun used a Healthy Development Measurement Tool (HDMT) to analyze how certain facilities would benefit the community. As a result, wellness classes, vegetable gardens and green spaces were included in the community plan to complement and encourage healthy lifestyle changes such as walking and biking as primary modes of transportation and maintaining a healthy diet.
CNU is not the first organization to recognize the project’s efforts to bridge socio-economic and public health gaps through design. Earlier this year Mariposa gained media attention when The New York Times highlighted the potential for the land use planning and design elements found in Mariposa to successfully battle health conditions such as obesity. In addition to the profile by The New York Times, the Environmental Protection Agency honored Mariposa in 2012, selecting it for the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in Equitable Development.
The success of the Mariposa development not only demonstrates the potential for LEED for Neighborhood Development projects to improve inhabitants’ wellness and transportation opportunities, but it also showcases the triumphs of the Affordable Green Neighborhoods Grant Program. As a 2012 grant recipient, Mariposa received funding from the U.S. Green Building Council and the Bank of America Foundation to pursue LEED-ND certification and to support the sustainable development efforts on site. This latest distinction from the Congress for the New Urbanism affirms and applauds Mariposa’s union of equitable development and sustainable design.
More about Mariposa:
Spanish for butterfly, Mariposa will be the name of the 17.5-acre development after its metamorphosis into a vibrant mixed-use, mixed-income and transit-oriented development. The change in name is fitting given then drastic transformation expected to revitalize the surrounding community physically and economically. Mariposa will improve not only the energy efficiency of the housing units, but also will decrease pollution and offer more transit options. The emphasis on walking and biking throughout the development satisfy principles set forth in new urbanism and the LEED-ND rating system in addition to benefitting the community from a health perspective. The Denver Housing Authority expects construction on Mariposa to end in 2018 and their progress can be tracked here.