Brookridge developer hopes to make project largest in nation powered by 100% renewable energy

Roxie Hammill - September 16, 2019 9:14 am
A rendering from the final development plan for Brookridge.

The Brookridge development will become the largest in the nation to be certified as 100 percent powered by renewable energy sources, developer Chris Curtin has announced.

The long-delayed project at the golf and fitness club in Overland Park is now committed to using solar and wind generated power generated in Kansas and supplied by Kansas City Power and Light, according an announcement distributed last week. It’s part of an agreement between Curtin and the U.S. Green Building Council, which handles certification for sustainable buildings.

That doesn’t necessarily mean windmills and solar arrays will pop up everywhere on the more than 200 acres of the project, near 103rd Street and Antioch Road. The developer will look to KCP&L to route the renewable energy to its 2 million square feet of office, residential, retail and entertainment buildings.

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Much of the energy will come through the utility’s power lines from areas outside of the development. There may be some additional rooftop solar panels, but no wind turbines will be on the property, the developer said.

Curtin will immediately convert the existing electric service at the golf and fitness facility through KCP&L’s solar subscription service. A subscription buys shares in a local solar array, according to the utility’s website. It does not lower energy bills, but does lock in costs for at least a portion of the electricity.

Any new buildings going up would use the solar subscription plus Kansas-sourced wind energy. In addition, Curtin has promised to implement more renewable energy including electric vehicle charging stations, rooftop solar arrays and unspecified “redundant” energy supply options.

A press release sent by the Curtin Property Company characterized the idea as a “groundbreaking partnership,” with the council that oversees LEED certification. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a set of standards for sustainable building and design.

The council lists silver, gold and platinum levels of sustainability. The Zero Energy category – focused on net carbon emissions — is new and has been used by a few smaller projects. Brookridge would be the first large development to go for a Zero Energy certification.

“The vision for Brookridge has evolved in our continuing effort to create a healthy place for people to live, work and play,” Curtin said in the release. “We’re committed to creating a healthy place for both people and for the environment on a sustainable level both we and the (Green Building Council) believe to be nation-leading.”

The idea got the endorsement of Roeland Park Mayor Michael Kelly, who co-chaired a recent meeting Climate Action Summit. “We are excited that our business community continues to embrace regional climate resilience and in doing so improve energy efficiency and conserve resources,” Kelly said.

The state of Kansas also was involved. The initiative was co-signed by Kansas Secretary of Commerce David Toland last week. “A project of the size and scope of the Brookridge development – along with the commitment being made to it – will serve to put the state of Kansas at the forefront of sustainable development,” wrote Gov. Laura Kelly.

The fate of the Brookridge projects, in the works for over four years, is far from certain, however. Developers and lawyers have recently hit sticking points over public financing, street improvements and phasing of the project, and the project is an issue in the upcoming city council elections.

In response to questions this morning, a representative of the developer said the commitment to renewable energy is not expected to delay the project. Any increase in the cost to the developer will be mitigated by greater efficiencies, the representative said.

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