In the heart of Tulsa, Okla.'s Brady Arts District, a contaminated former truck terminal is quickly transforming into an urban green space that boasts numerous forms of renewable energy. This Tulsa neighborhood was historically a thriving industrial area, but has seen a decrease in economic activity over the last 20 years. However, recent initiatives such as the Park on Brady are spurring the revitalization of the district while including efforts to conserve its historic character.
In 2009, the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF), a non-profit dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty through investments in early childhood education, community health, social services and civic enhancement, sponsored a series of community visioning sessions to create a plan for the future revitalization of the district.
The visioning sessions gave rise to the creation of the Brady Arts District Small Area Plan. The plan has been critical to the Park on Brady's success as it established development guidelines to guarantee that the district will maintain its authenticity as an arts district while protecting its defining historical character.
GKFF purchased the property for the Park on Brady in 2008 with plans to invest $8 million to convert the contaminated truck terminal into a low impact community hub and urban green space. GKFF anticipated the removal and remediation of two petroleum underground storage tanks and suspected one or two more tanks from an old gasoline station nearby. To cover the remediation costs of this brownfield site, GKFF applied for and received a Brownfield grant from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, which was provided through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. Once the remediation began, GKFF discovered that they had a much larger contamination problem. Ultimately, 12 tanks were removed from park's footprint of only one city block.
Innovative geothermal technology beneath the Park on Brady will provide for approximately 600 tons of low-cost, low-emissions heating and cooling to more than 135,000 square feet in the neighboring Mathews Warehouse and the Hardesty Arts Center. High performance geo-exchange (HPGX) materials allow for new well fields in urban areas that were previously inaccessible due to their limited footprint size. Lane Lawless from Rygan stated that "Rygan's HPGX technology has been implemented on a variety of projects around the country including national historic sites, city of Chicago buildings, Dept. of Navy, Dept. of Interior (National Park Service). The Brady project is currently the largest geo exchange well field of its kind in the world."
The Mathews Warehouse building, formerly the Tulsa Paper Co., will be converted to exhibition, studio, and performing arts space for the Arts and Humanities Council Tulsa, the University of Tulsa's Zarrow Center for Arts and Education, the Gilcrease Museum and the Philbrook Museum of Art. These non-profit organizations will directly benefit from the low-cost, low-emissions heating and cooling that will be provided to the building.
The Park on Brady will also harness solar energy to power park amenities and lighting. The pavilion will be outfitted with 194 solar panels that are estimated to generate 37.83 kW for a projected annual savings of $5,155. LED pedestrian lighting will be used throughout the park and the Brady Arts District to further reduce energy usage, maintenance costs, and light pollution.
The Park on Brady will have an 11,000 square-foot covered pavilion, an equipped performance area, and green spaces that will be centered on the large open lawn of the park's central axis. Other features will include native garden features, brick and concrete paved paths, large interactive jet fountains and four small water features. Additionally, the park is designed to incorporate numerous sustainable features such as bio-swales, LED lighting, photovoltaic solar cells on the pavilion, and a state-of-the-art geothermal exchange system. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce State Energy Program awarded GKFF a grant from ARRA funds to cover costs for renewable energy technology.
The Park on Brady combines green development with community development by integrating geothermal and solar technologies with park space to promote active pedestrian street life and provide a neighborhood venue for art exhibits, farmers markets, outdoor performances and more. The vibrant community space will also attract and encourage local business investment in the area.
A once highly contaminated and under-utilized piece of property, the Park on Brady is now on its way to becoming a green landmark of Tulsa's Brady Arts District.
About GKFF and the work performed in detail:
Ken Levit is the Executive Director of the George Kaiser Family Foundation. GKFF is dedicated to children's health, early childhood learning, and breaking the cycle of poverty. A recent $50 million grant to the University of Oklahoma established the nation's first community health training service school. GKFF has committed funds to establish the National Energy Policy Institute. Mr. Levit is a former special counsel to the CIA Director and Chancellor of the University of Oklahoma Tulsa Campus. He is a graduate of Brown University and Yale University Law School.
GKFF is a charitable organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty through investments in early childhood education, community health, social services and civic enhancement. GKFF works primarily on initiatives developed in collaboration with Tulsa-based direct service organizations.
In 2009, GKFF sponsored a series of community visioning sessions to create a plan for the future revitalization of the Brady Arts District in Tulsa, Oklahoma that resulted in the Brady Arts District Small Area Plan. It provides development guidelines that ensure the area maintains its authenticity as an arts district with historic character.
In 2008, GKFF purchased a former truck terminal, a contaminated brownfield property, and is investing $8 million to clean it up and convert it into an urban green space in the Brady Arts District called the "Park on Brady." Features will include a geothermal well field, gardens with native plants and trees, a 11,000 square foot covered pavilion, performance space for cinema, theatre, music, dance, festivals and markets, trellis and green rooms. In addition, the park will include bioswales, LED lighting and photovoltaic cells on the pavilion. This project is located on a brownfield site. Before the geothermal well field could be installed and before the native plants could be planted, twelve petroleum underground storage tanks had to be removed from below the site's surface. Contamination also had to be remediated. Funds for the removal of the underground storage tanks and the cleanup came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
How GKFF implemented innovative strategies to "green" their city:
GKFF is constructing a geothermal well field beneath the Park on Brady to supply ground source heat pumps to the Mathews Warehouse, formerly the Tulsa Paper Company, and the Arts and Humanities Council's Hardesty Arts Center. The Foundation's vision for the Mathews Warehouse is a center for the arts that contains exhibit, studio, and performing arts space shared by several organizations. The well field will have 120 wells, each 500-foot deep, and will provide approximately 600 tons of low-cost, low-emission heating and cooling, reducing the long-term operating costs of the nine nonprofit tenants located in the two buildings. The geothermal wells will draw support and attention to Oklahoma businesses and organizations that are displacing traditional fossil fuel energy sources with sustainable geothermal energy. Serving 120,000 square feet of art programming, the geothermal wells will reduce the demand for local philanthropic dollars.
The park will also include adaptive reuse of an existing historical structure outfitted with a solar panel system to provide a renewable energy source for the geothermal system and other park amenities. The system will include 194 solar panels that are estimated to generate 37.83 kW. This system will provide electricity to power the pump system on the geothermal well field as well as the other park amenities.
LED pedestrian lighting is more efficient than the traditional sodium halide acorn lights currently used in the Brady Arts District. LED bulbs will reduce energy usage by 50% and will last up to 7 times longer than traditional bulbs. In addition, LED bulbs and lamps have a greater photometric distribution reducing by half the number of poles and fixtures that traditional acorn lighting requires. LED lighting suitable for public use has only recently become cost-effective. Cities are just beginning to adopt LED public lighting to reduce their energy and maintenance costs, increase safety, and eliminate light pollution. In the last two years, a handful of U.S. cities have started making the transition to LED pedestrian and street lighting. These include: Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; San Jose, California; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Anchorage, Alaska.
The work GKFF has performed nationwide:
The innovative renewable technology applied at the Park on Brady and the installation of green space in the neighborhood can be applied in cities across the country. Many brownfields or underutilized spaces exist that could be cleaned and developed to provide renewable energy and park space to revitalize communities. This site, located in the heart of Tulsa's Brady Arts District, was contaminated and underutilized. Now, the site is on its way to producing clean energy and providing a public good in the form of a green space for the Tulsa community.
Bringing geothermal efficiency to the urban landscape has been a challenge in the past. In fact, geo-exchange systems have traditionally been off limits to metropolitan and urban areas simply because there isn't room for well fields. By cutting footprint requirements by half or more with high performance geo-exchange materials, efficient geothermal systems have been made possible in cities such as Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Atlanta and Tulsa. Locating geothermal well fields under large public spaces such as parks makes projects more manageable. Reducing power requirements for climate control is a critical aspect of energy security for the United States.
The Park on Brady project is intended to enhance the quality of life in the Brady, neighboring districts and the City of Tulsa by promoting pedestrian friendly and environmentally conscious development. The renewable energy projects and energy efficient dark sky friendly lighting will establish a model for green development. The new streetscaping will beautify the area and make it safer for pedestrians, promoting a healthy lifestyle while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Overall, Ken Levit and the George Kaiser Family Foundation have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to civic enhancement and have implemented change in an effective and efficient manner that can be replicated in urban areas across the nation. The Park on Brady combines green development with community development by integrating geothermal and solar technologies with a park space that promotes an active pedestrian street life and provides a neighborhood venue for art exhibits, farmers markets, outdoor performances and more.
Lower energy costs and a vibrant community space will attract and encourage local business investments. Furthermore, this site is a brownfield. A once highly contaminated and under-utilized piece of property, the Park on Brady is now on its way to becoming a true landmark of the Tulsa Brady Arts District. Enhancing the quality of life through such initiatives is a perfect example of a Champion of Change moving our communities forward.