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Photo: Guthrie Green

Guide to Guthrie Green's Park Technology

BY Ryan Howell, Guthrie Green Staff

In 2008, the George Kaiser Family Foundation purchased the former Central Freight parking lot to convert it into a green space that would serve as the Brady Art District's "town square." The result was Guthrie Green, an urban park and entertainment space designed using sustainable green technologies, including solar power and geothermal heating and cooling.

Guthrie Green is more than just a space to play. It's a laboratory full of learning opportunities for inquisitive minds of all ages. Tulsa invites you to explore, investigate and engage in the Brady's urban classroom.

Solar Panels

The solar panels above the dock at Guthrie Green can produce 49,334 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year, which is equal to powering almost five households for an entire year and $5,428 in annual energy costs. Because fossil fuels are not being burned to produce Guthrie Green’s energy needs, carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by 1,641 tons during the next 25 years, which is equal to not driving 4,102,500 miles or planting 18.49 acres of trees.

How Solar Power Works: Sunlight contains tiny particles of energy called photons. When the sun’s rays hit a solar panel, material inside the panel – usually silicon – absorbs the photons. The photons excite the electrons inside the silicon’s atoms until they begin to dart around and break away, forming electrical current. Copper wiring inside the panel serves as a highway for the current. This direct current travels out of the panel through a control device called and inverter, which changes it to alternating current that is used in the United States. The electricity passes from the inverter through breaker boxes to power outlets to be uses as a pollution-free energy.

Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Water is pumped through 120 separate 500 feet wells below Guthrie Green to cool or warm the water to the temperature of the ground depending on the season. When the water is cooled or warmed, the system then distributes it through a conventional duct system in nearby buildings at a rate of 1,800 gallons per minute to keep the buildings constantly at the same temperature.


Rock-lined bioswales are designed into the landscape elements of Guthrie Green. These “drainages” located on both the east and west sides of the Green are specifically designed to remove silt and small trash from surface runoff water. They consist of a swaled drainage course with gently sloped sides and planted with a variety of native vegetation. As water runs down the bioswales, the plants and rocks slow the flow of water and allowing silt and pollutants like trash to settle in place instead of running into the city sewer systems.

LED Lighting

The stage, dock and grounds of Guthrie Green are primarily lit using LED lights. LEDS (light emitting diodes) are unlike ordinary incandescent bulbs because they don't have a filament that will burn out, and they don't get especially hot. They are illuminated solely by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material, and they last just as long as a standard transistor. In other words, diodes are made of a positively charged material sandwiched next to a negatively charged material. When electricity is applied to the diode, it encourages the negative and positive ions in the separate materials to come together but in order for the positive and negative ions to come together and bond they must let go of a photon. A photon is the light we see being emitted from the LED.

In terms of savings, Guthrie Greens mainstage has more than 60 LED lights which can each change to a variety of colors at any time during the show. Conventional stage lighting cannot be changed automatically. LED lights have an estimated 50,000 hours of life compared to conventional lighting with just a few hundred hours per bulb and LEDs are 80 percent more energy efficient. 

Guthrie Green web site