The Chicago Center for Green Technology,
a new city facility on the west side, is aiming to become a national
model of energy efficiency and environmentally-friendly green
design. In fact, the city plans to apply for a platinum LEED
rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, the highest level of
this nationally-recognized green building certification program.
The Chicago Center for Green Technology, at 445 N. Sacramento, would
be only the third building in the country to earn this rating, and
the first that is a renovation.
When I talk about making Chicago a green city,
this is what I mean, said Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
What was once an environmental liabilityan eyesore for
the communityis now a community asset and a national example.
The Chicago Department of Environment took control of the property
in 1997, after the previous owner violated the citys environmental
laws and filed bankruptcy. A brownfield site with more than 600,000
cubic yards of construction and demolition debris, the city cleaned
up the site and recycled the clean stone and concrete into public
infrastructure projects throughout the city.
In designing and renovating the building, Chicago wanted to minimize
the negative environmental effects usually associated with constructing
buildings, improve the environment where possible and create a healthy
place for people to work and visit. Signs throughout the building
and grounds show visitors what the city has accomplished.
- For instance, its ground-source heat pumpthe first
in Chicagouses the constant temperature of the earth to heat
or cool the building. Thus, it is about 40 percent more energy efficient
than a conventional building of its size.
- With solar panels on the roof and photovoltaic awnings
shading south-facing windows, the center gets 20 percent of its
energy from the sun. Special sensors dim or brighten lights automatically
depending on how much sunlight is coming in through the windows.
Skylights and large windows further reduce the need for electricity.
- The sites stormwater system actually improves the
surrounding environment. Rainwater that falls on the grounds is
directed toward bioswales that slow down the water and filter impurities.
Rainwater from the roof is directed into four cisterns with a total
capacity of 12,000 gallons. A rooftop garden captures additional
rainwater. A site this size, developed in a typical manner, would
drain about 175,000 gallons of water during a two-inch rainstorm.
This site drains only about 85,000 gallons.
- More than half of the building materials used in the renovation
were manufactured within 300 miles of Chicago. Locally-produced
materials cut down on the amount of air pollution created in shipping
materials and benefit the regional economy. Many of the materials,
37 percent, are reused or recycled.
The site was designed by the American Institute of Architects Chicago
Chapter Committee on the Environment, and the construction was managed
by the Public Building Commission of Chicago.
In addition to being a model of green design, the Chicago Center
for Green Technology is home to green tenants. The city
worked with the U.S. Department of Energy to locate Spire Solar
Chicago, a manufacturer of solar panels. The company was attracted
to the project in part because of an $8 million purchase commitment
by the city and ComEd. Those solar panels provide power to the Chicago
Center for Green Technology, and represent almost 500 kilowatts
now installed on schools and museums in Chicago.
The second tenant, Greencorps Chicago, is a community landscaping
and job skills program run by the Chicago Department of Environment,
with WRD Environmental as contracting partner. Approximately 25
individuals per year learn landscaping skills and, while apprenticing
with the city, work with about 200 community groups each year to
design, install and maintain community gardens.
The site includes a cold-climate greenhouse, specially constructed
to require no supplemental heat, and a demonstration garden the
same size as two standard city lots so that community groups working
with Greencorps can help design their own gardens.
The $5.5 million site renovation was paid for through the citys
1999 settlement with ComEd, which created a fund for projects that
demonstrate energy efficiency and improve the reliability of the
electric system. Chicagos Environmental Fund contributed $100,000
for the site design. The $9 million site clearance was paid for
by the city, which reduced costs significantly by recycling the
concrete and stone into city infrastructure projects.