In order for sustainable living to become a reality, integrated communities with public transportation and efficient design, renewable materials, and economic opportunities have to materialize. In the outskirts of Denver, Colorado GEOS – “an innovative master planned community that emphasizes the importance of neighborhood and utilizes technologies that are right for our time” – is in the planning stages. According to an employee of the project, they will break ground this fall after two years of delays.
GEOS “is Colorado’s first sustainable, integrated community where energy from the Earth and the Sun replaces all fossil fuels.” In order to represent a truly sustainable community, a mix of housing choices, like apartments, town homes, and commercial space is essential. “There are housing options for people of all ages, incomes and lifestyles starting from the $200s.” Homes range in size from 850 condos/apartments to single family dwellings of more than 3500 square feet.
GEOS follows on the heels of Stapleton, a self-billed “sustainable community” on the east side of Denver. However, GEOS goes beyond the basic plan of Stapleton, The Kentlands, and other New Urbanist communities. GEOS will be powered by locally produced energy. Due to the trifecta of elevation, cool temperatures, and “over 300 sunny days per year,” Colorado is fantastic place to install solar technology, especially photovoltaic. “Homes that incorporate passive solar, super insulated building shells, high thermal mass and mobile window insulation provide for optimal solar energy gain and retention. A heat recovery ventilation system provides clean and filtered fresh air and conserves internally generated heat.” In addition, the development will use ground source geothermal, which will provide cool air during the summer, as well as moderate temperature air during cold months.
To create a sense of community, “Tree-lined streets, greenways, promenades and plazas create unity, shaded enclaves and an ‘outdoor room’ experience.”Furthermore, “Efficient irrigation, permeable paving, percolation parks and rain gardens throughout provide watering without waste reducing overall water needs.” The inclusion of green spaces aims to improve health by promoting outdoor activity. As an added benefit, they also help reduce and treat storm run-off.
There are four sub-neighborhoods. They are listed below with a brief description of each from GEOS’ master plan.
Entry Mixed-Use: townhomes and condominiums will intermingle with locally owned ground level shops and live/work home offices.
Beachfront Mixed-Use: This area will feature the Central Square and will be considered the heart of social life at Geos. Surrounded by community-oriented facilities, businesses and playgrounds , the Beachfront will make a great place to sit, relax and chat with neighbors.
Garden Communities: The Garden Community Neighborhood will boast sunny, south-facing homes with private gardens, patios and porches. The homes will have access to small paths intertwined with gardens and parks on their way to the public open space along Ralston Creek.
Checkerboard Blocks: These residences will be positioned for ideal solar access, and have inviting outdoor courtyards and patios. Here you will find live/work townhomes that face well-traveled streets for maximum public exposure and convenience