Less pavement, more green will take a little help from everyone

Denver Post January 22, 2021

By Jevon Taylor

Guest Commentary

Being a “city within a park” is not just good for business; it’s critical to Denver’s sustainability. For a city that envisions itself as a “city within a park,” Denver is one of the lowest-ranking American cities in park acres per resident. Intertwined with ongoing growth and development throughout the city is the need to balance the amount of green space and nature within our communities. Each of us needs to rethink our definition of “green space” to include not only parks and open space but trees and greenery built into the spaces in between.

As our city continues to grow, we, as business owners and community stakeholders, need to be the leaders behind a more tangible, accessible solution and look to retrofitting existing spaces. That includes businesses such as mine in Five Points, working with one of Denver’s largest developers, EDENS, and partners such as the National Wildlife Federation and Denver Botanic Gardens to invest proactively in breaking up concrete and incorporating greenery in our rights of way and storefronts. By working with local community members, nearby schools, customers and the city of Denver, our collaboration will transform the space we manage to attract more business, improve people’s health and contribute to the fabric of the community.

This isn’t just a movement to make the city more aesthetically pleasing. There are well-known mental and physical health benefits of time spent around greenery and in nature, such as lower stress and greater physical activity — not to mention environmental benefits such as reduced heat and better air quality. But as a small business owner in downtown Denver, I can’t ignore the added benefit that customers are willing to pay 8% to 12% more where there’s attractive landscaping. Stormwater bills and air conditioning expenses also are affected by what we do with hot, “impervious” concrete outside our storefronts.

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