Sustainability - South Suburban Parks and Recreation

Sustainability in South Suburban

The District is committed to sustainability and stewardship of the environment through conservation measures that reduce water and energy usage, improve the natural environment, protect natural resources and provide significant savings to the District and its residents.

Check out our sustainability practices, including our energy performance contract, the purchase of 725 solar panels in two local solar gardens and our partnership with Clean Energy Collective and work with McKinstry.

Water Quality and Conservation

Conserving water in our parks, along our trails and in our facilities is important to the District. Water conserving measures implemented to date include:

  • Use of computer automated irrigation controllers that automatically shut down the irrigation system if there is a break in the line.
  • Use a variety of water conserving irrigation systems including subsurface drips, bubbler and micro‐spray technologies to efficiently deliver adequate irrigation to trees, shrubs and flowers.
  • Installation of low flow toilets and motion activated faucets in restrooms.
  • Use of Xeriscape design principles in tree, shrub and perennial beds and the use of native or site‐adapted plant selections.
  • Use of mulch and compost in our landscape beds to reduce water loss through evaporation.
  • Conversion of low use irrigated bluegrass turf areas to non‐irrigated natural grass areas in our parks and along trails to reduce water use.
  • Non‐potable well water is used at many golf courses and park sites to reduce the need for purchasing treated water in times of drought.
  • At our Hotel, guests have the option to reuse their towels and linens during a multiple-night stay helping us reduce water and energy consumption, as well as detergent.

Energy Conservation

Energy conservation strategies save money and reduce the District’s carbon footprint. Some energy conservation measures we have taken to date include:

  • Purchase of 725 solar panels in two local solar gardens.
  • Replacement of outdated metal halide lighting fixtures with new energy efficient T5 and T8 florescent lighting at the recreation centers, ice arenas and office facilities.
  • Installation of programmable thermostats at some facilities.
  • Installation of software to manage energy use for computers.
  • Installation of occupancy sensors in restrooms, offices, and kitchens to turn off lights when the area is not in use.
  • Minimized energy loss in some buildings by replacing aging infrastructure. Examples include:
    • Replacing skylights and windows with low‐e windows to reduce solar heat gain
    • Insulation with higher R‐value to reduce heating needs in the winter months
    • Replacing aging HVAC equipment with Energy Star rated furnaces, hot‐water heaters and air conditioning units.
  • Use of renewable energy concepts such as passive solar heat gain utilizing south facing windows and solar mass to heat a building.
  • District-wide efforts to turn off lights, computers and electronic equipment when rooms are not in use.
  • Use of photovoltaic arrays to power irrigation pumps.
  • Regular maintenance of filters, belts and coils on HVAC equipment helps keep equipment operating at peak efficiency.

Recycling and Waste Diversion

The re‐use of recycled materials helps reduce the waste that is going into landfills.

  • David A. Lorenz Regional Park is an example of a successful reuse of a former landfill. The design also includes recycled materials in the asphalt parking lot, infield sports mix at ball fields, and reusing concrete from Stapleton Airport for parking blocks and retaining walls.
  • Use of materials in playground structures that have recycled content in the steel and plastic.
  • Use of recycled content in fences and benches.
  • Use of recycled tires for infill at our synthetic fields.
  • Collection and annual “cleaning” of dirt collected from sod jobs, turf repair, construction projects, irrigation repairs, aeration cores and similar projects. We use this amended top soil as topdressing material on our athletic fields throughout the year.
  • Sponsorship of an annual Christmas tree drop‐off in late December through mid-January where trees are chipped and used for mulch in parks, diverting the trees from landfills.
  • Implementation of district-wide recycling in our parks and facilities.
  • Diversion of plant waste from landfills by composting within the horticulture and forestry departments as well as reusing or recycling planting containers.

Air Quality Improvement

Air quality measures improve the environment and reduce the brown cloud. Some air quality measures we have implemented are:

  • Implementation and the use of GIS technology to develop routing plans and combining trips to reduce routine maintenance vehicle miles traveled.
  • Installation of magnetic locks on park restroom facility doors to reduce staff trips to lock and unlock doors.
  • Installation of software to remotely control District computers to reduce trips to facility locations.

Annual tree and shrub plantings in the parks and along the trails to help cleanse the air by intercepting airborne particles, reducing heat, and absorbing such pollutants as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Trees remove this air pollution by lowering air temperature, through respiration, and by retaining particulates.

Human and Environmental Health

We are working to improve our health and environment by improving habitat for both residents and our resident wildlife.

  • Use of integrated Pest Management practices to best identify and treat pest and diseases. The horticulture and forestry department has reduced fungicides use at the War Memorial Rose Garden.
  • Tree plantings along the South Platte River to improve the habitat, environmental quality and aesthetics of this heavily travelled corridor.
  • Wetlands projects on the creeks, streams and lakes have been installed to clean water before it is put back into the drainage system.
  • Leaving of perches, snags and deadfall in open space areas to provide habitat for wildlife.
  • Our recreation facilities, parks and trails foster healthy living by promoting both indoor and outdoor activities to reduce nature deficient disorder and obesity among children and adults.