Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity

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Brown Park in Hope Crossing

Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) Pilot Project

The Hope Crossing neighborhood has been selected in an international competition as a Sustainable Sites Pilot Project.  Pilot projects will be scrutinized and evaluated as they implement sustainable practices for environmental design.  The goal of the pilot program is to test and refine Sustainable Sites guidelines.  The goal for Hope Crossing’s participation is to create a healthy, resilient, life-enhancing physical environmental for all current and future residents and to bring information and hands-on training opportunities in sustainable design and land use practices to the community at large.

The Sustainable Sites Initiative

The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) is an international, interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction, and maintenance practices.  Guidelines include reducing runoff and utilizing storm water as a resource, preserving and protecting healthy soils, choosing and using appropriate vegetation, reducing materials consumption, and enhancing human well-being by providing a healthy ecosystem in which to play, work, and socialize.

As these guidelines become the accepted practices by professionals and nonprofessionals alike, they will transform the ways we design and build on the land, creating landscapes that nourish life for generations to come.

The Hope Crossing Community

Hope Crossing is a 59-acre development near the intersection of Wilshire and Kelley in northeast Oklahoma City.  As of mid-2010, over half of the 217 planned homes have been completed, and more are under construction.  The houses are among the most energy efficient in the state with design features such as geothermal heating/cooling and foam insulation.  In addition to houses, the neighborhood includes three park areas, walking trails, and open space.

Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity is the Hope Crossing developer.  Under the guidance of Central Oklahoma Habitat, volunteer teams and contractors build the individual residences and have developed the park spaces.  Homes are sold at no profit, with no money down, and with 0% financing to hard-working, limited-income families.

Pilot Projects

The Hope Crossing SITES project team submitted a proposal in a competitive international call for pilot projects and was notified of acceptance in early May 2010.  Oklahoma is one of only 34 states with a selected pilot project; Iceland, Spain, and Canada are also represented.  Projects selected include the Flight 93 National Memorial and the Smithsonian Institution’s African American History & Culture Museum.  Academic and corporate campuses, public parks with hundreds of acres, and transportation corridors are also among the projects that were announced in a nationwide press release on May 25.  Each project, along with details, will be featured on an interactive map on the SITES website.

SITES will use feedback from Hope Crossing and other selected projects during the pilot phase, which runs through June 2012, to revise the final rating system and reference guide by early 2013.  The U.S. Green Building Council, a stakeholder in the Sustainable Sites Initiative, anticipates incorporating the guidelines and performance benchmarks into future iterations of its LEED® Green Building Rating System™, upon which SITES is modeled.

Project Synopsis

The houses in Hope Crossing have been designed and constructed to conserve energy and resources and to be sustainable for generations.  Sustainable home design does not, however, extend into the landscape.  For example, most central Oklahoma residences have Bermuda grass lawns which require significant inputs of time, energy, money, chemicals, machinery, and water in order to stay green.  A revised landscape master plan for Hope Crossing will bring sustainable practices to the environment surrounding the homes.

Elements of the plan include:

-  educating residents in sustainable land use practices
-  restoring a degraded, channelized stream
-  planting trees properly for maximum environmental benefits
-  recycling and reusing vegetation and natural materials
-  retaining and using storm water as a beneficial resource

The Hope Crossing SITES project plan is being developed by a team comprised of:

Randy Marks, MALD, LEED AP, Principal, Land+Form
Connie Scothorn, ASLA, RLA, Principal, CLS & Associates
Allen Brown, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, FSB Architects
G’Anne Derrick, Hope Crossing Community Association Board Member
Ann Felton, Chairman & CEO, Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity

Implications

1.  Hope Crossing is the sole SITES pilot project in the state of Oklahoma.  This project will focus positive national and international media attention on Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity, Oklahoma City, and the entire state.  Establishing our community and state as a national leader in sustainability is a critical part of our future.

2.  Oklahoma City’s core is currently undergoing dramatic alterations.  Accompanying this is a nascent awareness that current practices must be altered for a sustainable future.  The Hope Crossing SITES pilot project, on a site that is already receiving much favorable public attention, will have an outsized positive impact at this pivotal time in the city’s development.  The project team envisions serving as a resource for the community at large as city and regional plans continue to unfold.

3.  Hope Crossing and Oklahoma will help set the standard for other developments.  Future developments could be designed from the start to meet SITES benchmarks just as some are currently designed for LEED certification (eventually the two systems will be merged).  Central Oklahoma Habitat will be able to provide a detailed, cutting-edge, and research-tested template for other affordable housing programs to follow.

4.  The nexus of sustainability and affordable housing offers unparalleled opportunities.  Sustainable landscapes provide significant economic and social benefits to land owners and municipalities while cleaning water, reducing runoff and pollution, and restoring habitats.  It is appropriate that the residents in Hope Crossing, who are an under-served population, benefit from a SITES pilot project.  Residents are critically important stakeholders and will be involved in the development and implementation of the plan.  The plan will focus on teaching sustainable practices that will positively affect the residents and the community long after the pilot project concludes.

 

 

Grateful thanks to our SITES project partners:

Minick Materials
Mr. & Mrs. Ira Schlezinger