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The Urban Farm: Sustainable Indoor Farming Provides Local Greens in Winter and Hope for the Future

December 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Lee Hahn

Farm1FarmedHere has understandable bragging rights. They’re the first vertical farm in Chicago, the only USDA Organic Certified aquaponic indoor operation in the U.S., the world’s largest aquaponics system and a recent winner in the Chicago Innovation Awards in the up-and-comer category for startups. Not bad for a company that’s only a year old.
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Home Smart Home

December 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

homesmarthomeBy Matt Baker

Right now, on your desk or in your pocket, is a tremendous piece of technology. It gives you the ability to communicate with anyone, anywhere and the whole sum of human knowledge is there for your perusing. Smartphones have greatly impacted how we interact with each other and our environment.

We are still discovering new ways that they can impact and better our lives, but where will the next front be in this human/digital dance? It very likely will be home intelligence systems. While early adopters may be drawn to features of comfort like media control, the true power of these systems are in energy management. One of the few sustainability products directed at the residential sector, these systems can help the average homeowner become an exceptional energy conserver.
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Intelligent Growth in Wilmette

December 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

8804-143_5512By Matt Baker

Picture, if you will, a public works facility somewhere in suburban Chicago. You are likely envisioning walls made of concrete masonry units, a bowstring truss roof and maybe some pebbled, chicken wire glass letting in meager light. For most industrial facilities of a certain age, this is de rigueur.

It was true in the village of Wilmette, too. Before a series of expansions, cramped and outdated work spaces reduced the Wilmette Public Works Department’s effectiveness. And when the village decided to upgrade, they took sustainability into mind.
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Reducing Energy Consumption, Neighborhood by Neighborhood

December 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Neighborhood2By Matt Baker

Chicago has put a number of programs into place to challenge residents to reduce their utility consumption. It started with the Green Office Challenge, pitting commercial office spaces against each other to lower energy, materials and water consumption. Retrofit Chicago is a similar program on a larger scale, with entire buildings in competition.

The latest program aims to go even bigger, with neighborhood competing against neighborhood. The Chicago Neighborhood Energy Challenge is a six-month pilot competition among multi-unit buildings in Humboldt Park and Logan Square that will encourage residents to reduce energy usage.
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Davis Appointed New Building Commish

December 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Chicago City HallThe Chicago Department of Buildings has a new head. Mayor Rahm Emanuel today named Felicia Davis Commissioner, replacing Michael Merchant. Davis will oversee code enforcement, as well as ongoing efforts to modernize the department.
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Energy Use Benchmarking Comes to Chicago

September 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

Greenwashers. They are the ones telling you that their product is sustainable and never mind about backing those claims up. You might be annoyed to discover that you’ve wasted your money on paper towels or a floor cleaner that claimed to be green but wasn’t. Now imagine that the product bathed in greenwashing isn’t some $5 cleaning product but a piece of real estate.
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Gothic Revival: Does the Randolph Tower Portend a Residential Renaissance in the Loop?

September 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

4_Randolph Tower_After_Exterior_Dusk_Leslie SchwartzChicago is home to a building dreamed of in the lavish 1920’s and which subsequently fell into demise during the Great Depression. With the dawn of a new millennium came a possibility for resurgence, but history was about to repeat itself; the soaring stock market took a massive hit and financing for construction projects evaporated. Could this building possibly survive two economic disasters?
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Chicago Area Wastewater to Finally Be Disinfected

September 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Linda Seggelke

At a glance, the reversal of the Chicago River over a hundred years ago may seem like drastic behavior. But with so much sewage, offal and industrial waste pouring into the river and, ultimately, Lake Michigan, fears of fouling the city’s water supply were very real.

Because of this, our supply of drinking water is relatively safe today. Just don’t fall into the river. According to EPA estimates, upwards of 70% of the Chicago River is comprised of the sewage that we continue to pump in.
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Retrofitting Buildings and Behavior

September 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

thermostatby Colin Rohlfing, LEED AP BD+C
Sustainable Director at HOK

Chicago is at a tipping point. The Retrofit Chicago program is in full-swing, “Sustainable Chicago 2015” has established a pathway forward for the city that emphasizes energy efficiency in the built environment and the Chicago Energy Disclosure Ordinance has been approved for implementation.

These initiatives have already decreased energy use in the City of Chicago and will continue to do so in the near future. However, significant reduction in energy cannot be solely achieved with “behind the scenes” building system upgrades. Sustainable principles and initiatives must be implemented and championed by building occupants from multiple stakeholder groups. The Chicago Green Office Challenge has taken efficiency to this next level; but unlocking the sustainable “power of people” is a deliberate and intricate process.
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Unlocking the Value of an Energy-Efficient Home

September 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

soldBy Melissa Ulbricht

More than 40% of total U.S. energy consumption comes from the buildings sector, which includes single and multifamily residences and commercial buildings. This is more than any other sector, such as industry and transportation. Here in Chicago, energy use in buildings is nearly 70% of total energy consumption. Older housing stock combined with extreme weather conditions—from long, cold winters to shorter, hot summers—makes homes in this region very energy intensive.
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