Houston’s Discovery Green is a Model for Urban Parks

Posted on Nov 7 2012 - 10:26pm by Garret Stembridge


Find yourself in Discovery Green in downtown Houston, Texas, and you may start wondering why every large city in the U.S. doesn’t have such a fun, useful, environmentally awesome, and downright creative use of fallow city land. Fallow? Well, yes, the land that is now home to Discovery Green was once an empty parking lot surrounded by some green space close to the George R. Brown Convention Center. It wasn’t accomplishing a whole lot.


Photo from Discovery Green


Now, that former parking lot is home to Discovery Green, a 12-acre park featuring so much good stuff!

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of this unique park:

  • Gateway Fountain, a water park situated with 14-foot-high jets for cooling off
  • John P. McGovern Playground, themed for migratory birds that pass over Houston
  • Dog Runs for both small and large dogs
  • Mist Tree, featuring 80 nozzles that create a mist cloud inside a giant steel sculpture with a circular pan forming a rain curtain around the art
  • Kinder Lake, a serene little body of water that spreads over more than an acre
  • Brown Foundation Promenade, a limestone path shaded by 100-year-old oak trees
  • McNair Jogging Trail, made of decomposed granite
  • HPL Express, a branch of the Houston Public Library providing free wireless service throughout the park and free use of recreational equipment


What’s so green about Discovery Park?

Created by a partnership between the City of Houston and the non-profit Discovery Green Conservancy, the park has earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Plus, it’s fulfilled the promise of its creators: serve as a landmark to attract convention revenue and become an anchor for downtown development. So far, the park has hosted more than 800 events and welcomed more than three million visitors!

But here’s how Discovery Green is really green:

  • The park has four large oak trees relocated from areas that were threatened by development, as well as 12 mature trees.
  • Solar panels in the park have been generating green energy since 2007.
  • Discovery Green features a high-efficiency irrigation system, and also recycles groundwater for use in Kinder Lake.
  • Buildings within the park are oriented to maximize natural air flow within the park, plus minimize solar heat gain in interior spaces.

Mist Tree photo from flickr user Erion Shehaj


Extra Space Storage Greened Up Too with Electronic Leases

We’ve been busy making our Houston storage facilities more friendly for the environment and customers. No, we don’t have misty trees or dog runs, but we have made our service better for Houston residents by reducing the amount of time it takes to lease a Houston self-storage unit. That way, you can get back to hanging out in the park with your dog!

With DocuSign, an electronic signature network, customers can “e-sign” and submit leases, which we store digitally. What used to take around 30 minutes can now be done in just about 10 minutes!

Electronic leases not only save Houston residents time, but they greatly reduce the amount of paper we use. Before we implemented electronic leases, most facilities used an average of 10 reams (5,000 sheets) of paper each month, but with electronic leases we were able to cut that amount to just a single ream of paper each month! Plus, we reduced our toner and printer cartridge drum use by one-third. Electronic leases aren’t the only way we’ve gone green. Read more about our other energy-efficiency initiatives.

Have you saved time by signing an electronic lease? How long did it take you to lease your last storage unit?