Northfield Stapleton

File Type: Free Content, Case study
Release Date: January 2007
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Northfield Stapleton

Fast Facts

Address: Denver, Colorado
Company/Developer: Forest City
Project Specs: Speculative
Project Type: Mixed-Use Regional Mall
Square Feet: 1.2 million

Project History: One of the first retail centers in the country to build green, Northfield Stapleton is located within the redevelopment of Denver’s former Stapleton International Airport. Stapleton’s master plan comprises more than 12,000 homes, three million square feet of regional and village retail space, 10 million square feet of office/R&D/industrial space. Northfield is right at home in Stapleton’s urban tapestry of residences, shops, offices, parks and schools - a walkable, environmentally-responsible community. The ongoing goal for Northfield is to strategically and competitively balance environmental resources, economic objectives and social systems.

Commitment to Sustainability

To help tenants implement cost-effective solutions to energy efficiency, indoor air quality and natural resource conservation, creating retail facilities that are more economical, durable, efficient and healthier environments in which to shop, Northfield created NSTIP, a first-of-its-kind incentive program of up fo $2 per square foot. In April 2007, to celebrate Earth and Arbor Day, Northfield sponsored Project Go Green, a two-day event featuring the latest information on recycling, transportation and environmental education, along with free activities including tree planting, environmentally-themed readings, Save the Earth essay contest, hybrid car demos, urban farm showcase with live animals and more. The project Web site,, has a sustainability page and there’s a four-page sustainability section in the quarterly Stapleton magazine.

Green Features

Economic Analysis

  • The payback for Northfield’s sustainable features is estimated at 10 years.  Forest City anticipates economic benefits in the form of reduced operating expenses, free press and marketing, slow-down of tenant turnover and extended asset life.
  • Xcel Energy, the local electice company, provided financial kick-backs up to $2 per square foot to both Northfield and its tenants who complied with their Design Assistance Program.
  • The sustainable features at Northfield are expected to reduce its exposure to physical, functional and social obsolescence over the extended life of the place.
  • While efficiencies of the facility convert to real money savings, the greatest benefits to retailers come in the form of improved worker productivity and increased sales, which are both direct results of Northfield’s sustainable environment.
Northfield Stapleton street view

Site Sustainability/Materials Use

  • Northfield is easily accessible on RTD Bus Route 43, which was expanded to accommodate the development.  The project is also situated in proximity to a planned light rail station.
  • Offers two bike storage options and a number of traditional U-Locks as well as 28 full enclosure locker units available for employees, employers and shoppers.
  • Nearly 35 acres of land on the west end has been dedicated to the City and County of Denver parks system as open space. The land serves as a water quality and detention pond for approximately 460 acres of north Stapleton, including Northfield. The majority of the pond and open space has been populated with a variety of native plant and wetland species. It was designed to support migratory waterfowl and other small animals.
  • All storm water runoff is managed through a redundant treatment process. All storm surge water is first consolidated into a 75-acre-foot detention pond. It is treated for quality in an 18.5-acre-foot water quality pond, both of which are adjacent to the project. Runoff from the pond is metered by an Urban Drainage and Flood Control District pipe capable of accomodating a storm volume that typically occurs once every 100 years. The result is a controlled release of storm surge water discharged into Sand Creek, reducing erosion and other negative effects.
  • During construction, nearly 50 percent of all waste was diverted from the landfill to a recycling facility.
  • More than six million tons of concrete from the former airport runways were salvaged. Over $500,000 worth was used at Northfield and the reminder was made available to other projects. The concrete was reused as crushed fines for backfill of the foundations for several  buildings. 
  • Asphalt from former runways was crushed into the underlying aggregate base for parking lots and was reused to pave those lots.
  • Thirty-eight percent of construction materials and 96 percent of landscaping materials were purchased within 500 miles of the property.
  • More than a quarter of Northfield was built using recycled materials. The combined value of post-consumer content plus half of post-industrial content as a percentage of total cost of materials is 27 percent.
Northfield Stapleton play area

Energy Efficiency

  • The overall energy performance was designed to be 10-20 percent better than baseline.
  • High performance windows with low-E ratings and a low shading coefficient bring natural light in without letting in excessive solar gain. Glazing is positioned to maximize natural lighting.
  • Exterior wall and roof insulation both exceed the ASHRAE 90.1 baseline model.
  • At least one percent of Northfield’s energy comes from a 5.44kW solar PV system, which has been installed on the roof of the office building.
  • Wind turbines used at the site generate a clean and renewable source of energy. Offsetting 100 percent of the project’s energy consumption for two years, Northfield purchased 576,530 kW of wind power.
  • All of the HVAC systems use evaporative cooling technology, with the excpetion of one DX unit (a four-ton cooler that utilizes R-22 refrigerant). Cooling is accomplished with water and fan energy alone; there are no CFC-based refrigerants.
  • A centrally monitored electronic metering network measures energy consumption and verifies that efficiency goals are being met within individual tenant spaces.

Water Efficiency

  • The irrigation systems are designed with low flow drip technology, moisture sensors and automated controllers.
  • The landscape design incorporate native and other xeric plant species as well as high efficiency irrigation to reduce water consumption by 53 percent as compared to the baseline model.  More than 357,575 gallons of water is saved each year.
  • Offices feature low-water-consuming plumbing in kitchens, bathrooms, showers and sinks. Throughout the property, 26.32 percent of the toilets are low flow and eight urinals are waterless. 
  • Sensor-activated faucets run for only as long as the sensor is activated. This conserves more water than metered facets, as the water shuts off immediately after hands have been removed, rather than continuing to flow for the remainder of the set cycle.
  • Collectively, the high-efficiency plumbing fixtures reduce water usage by more than 645,000 gallons a year.


  • All irrigation zones feature LawnLogic’s Soil Moisture Monitor, a cutting edge technology that measures soil moisture and shuts down the irrigation system when enough water has been delivered to the soil for healthy growth.  Conductivity measures electrical resistance in the soil, which allows the landscape to determine when it needs water.  Sensors are buried in the soil to monitor moisture at the root zone.
  • Landscaping relies on Netafim sub-surface irrigation. All shrubs, trees and ornamental grasses were irrigated with drip-type emitters. This underground drip grid system of porous pipe delivers water directly to the soil and roots, eliminating airboune sprinkler water. It releases water at the root zone of each plant, limiting the amount of water wasted and encouraging deeper root development.