The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently honored Denver’s Mariposa District with the 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in the category of Equitable Development. The prestigious national award is given for creative, sustainable initiatives that help protect the health and the environment of communities while also strengthening local economies. Seven projects were honored at an awards ceremony in December in Washington, D.C.

Rendering courtesy of DHA
The Mariposa District in Denver is undergoing phased revitalization that has earned the Denver Housing Authority and other city agencies national recognition.

The Denver Housing Authority’s redevelopment of the Mariposa District in the La Alma and Lincoln Park neighborhood is transforming the area into a vibrant, mixed-use community. DHA created a master plan for the diverse area with extensive community input, which included over 120 meetings, group consultations, workshops and information sessions.

The “community-driven design” project preserves affordable housing while adding new homes at a variety of price points and provides access to downtown Denver via light rail. It also incorporates community concerns about health by including sidewalks, bike lanes and other features that make it easier for residents to be physically active. 

Green building elements will reduce energy consumption by up to 50%, while green infrastructure will reduce the flow of stormwater into sewers by 80%. Other unique features of the project included offering classes to residents on healthy cooking and eating and job training for residents in health-related fields.

The Mariposa District project is supported by the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an effort that brought EPA, the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and the Dept. of Transportation together to provide assistance and funding to help plan and achieve specific housing, transportation, energy efficiency and green infrastructure goals.

“The 2012 winners of the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement are taking innovative steps to realize a vision of American communities that are clean, healthy, environmentally responsible and economically resilient,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

“The EPA Smart Growth Award for the new Denver Mariposa District shows the great commitment of our housing authority to create smart, vibrant communities,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. “Denver Housing Authority’s progressive approach to planning and design is consistent with the city’s strategic investments in our neighborhoods to deliver eco-friendly affordable housing and sustainable economic development through active community engagement.”

The Mariposa District was selected from 47 applicants in 25 states. The winning entries were chosen based on their effectiveness in creating sustainable communities, fostering equitable development among public, private and nonprofit stakeholders and serving as national models for environmentally and economically sustainable development.