Location: 1500 McKinney St Houston, TX 77010
Description: Discovery Green is a 12-acre park created in 2004 by a public-private partnership between the City of Houston and the non-profit Discovery Green Conservancy. According to its website, the Discovery Green “was conceived not only as a public park, but as a landmark to attract convention revenue to the City, and as an anchor for downtown development.” The onsite facilities have been certified LEED Gold by the USGBC.
+ Two large parking lots, divided by a narrow green space known as the Houston Center Gardens, were originally situated on the property.
+ Philanthropists led by The Brown Foundation and the Kinder Foundation led the initial appeal for an urban park to be created on the land.
+ Mayor Bill White approved the project, advocating for a public-private partnership.
+ PageSoutherlandPage managed the LEED certification process for the park.
+ The park aims to be a living “green” education & awareness space.
+ Achieved Corporate Lands for Learning (CLL) certification from the American Wildlife Council for the establishment and documentation of site-based education programs through providing exemplary conservation education experiences for the community.
+ Has numerous energy efficiency measures, including solar arrays on each of the main park buildings, the Alkek Building and The Lake House.
+ 20% of the materials used came from regional sources, and more than 60% of the Ipe wood used to construct the park came from sustainably-harvested forests.
Conclusion: Simply stated, Discovery Green Park is a beautiful public space in the heart of downtown Houston. Having had the opportunity to visit the park in the afternoon and at night, I can attest to its vibrant attraction to the local community. My concern, however, is that the park may have taken the concept of “urban oasis” a bit too far, as I found the numerous decorative/play fountains, misting stations, and ice-skating rink to be somewhat excessive—perhaps even wasteful. The concept and existence of the park is decidedly a good thing, but it does raise interesting questions about the malleability (or over-flexibility) of LEED’s point system.
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