Chicago Codes -- Know the Code

Here are Three of the Unique Houses You Can See on This Year’s GreenBuilt Home Tour

July 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Demonstrating the present and future of sustainable residential design, the lineup of houses has been announced for the fourth annual Chicagoland GreenBuilt Home Tour. Hosted by USGBC-Illinois, the GreenBuilt Home Tour provides unique contact with sustainable residences and the teams that brought them to fruition.
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Performance-Based Procurement: Infusing Your Design-Build Contract with Energy Requirements

June 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

Innovation is a crucial part of the green building movement. Year after year, renewables come down in price, mechanical systems become more efficient and the stock of sustainably sourced materials grows more diverse. Without these technological advancements, the share of the construction sector devoted to sustainability would likely equal that of yak skin yurts.

So, what if you apply that innovative thinking to other aspects of the design-build environment? That’s the idea behind a new trend: performance-based procurement. First developed by the Colorado-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory, performance-based procurement is an approach that sets into motion higher energy efficiency in a building before a shovel ever meets dirt.
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The Business Case for Urban Agriculture

June 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

Five years ago, the world of commercial urban agriculture was nearly barren in Chicago. Not for a lack of need; large populations in the city live in food deserts without access to fresh food and the food that is available is mostly shipped over thousands of miles, racking up huge carbon debts.

But much has changed over the last few years. Chicago amended the Zoning Ordinance in 2011 to include more urban agriculture, drawing a distinction between urban farms and community gardens. The ordinance also sorted different uses into three categories—indoor, outdoor and rooftop—and allowed them in commercially oriented districts. The stormwater management ordinance was later amended, which has huge impacts on agricultural operations, and regulations around composting were relaxed.
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Chiaravalle Montessori: Progressive in Education, Progressive in Design

June 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

Architecture can be at its most expressive when the intended use is nontraditional. Montessori schools, which use a time-tested yet unorthodox educational technique, require spaces that one might not find in a conventional elementary classroom. It should be no surprise then that a progressive teaching method begets progressive building design.

The new North Wing at Chiaravalle Montessori School provides the Evanston campus a stunning, open space that embodies this progressive approach. Cannon Design created the $7 million, 19,000 square foot addition with the aim of fostering both collaboration and independence among the student body.
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The Value of Early Energy Analysis Is Important For Buildings Large and Small

June 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

By Eric Flower, The Weidt Group

Chicago residents and businesses spend more than $3 billion per year on energy, according to the city’s 2015 Building Energy Benchmarking Report, which summarizes the results from Chicago’s energy benchmarking ordinance. Large properties of 50,000 square feet or more are required to track and report whole-building energy use to the city annually. The ordinance, however, covers less than 1% of Chicago’s buildings, meaning there is a huge opportunity to analyze smaller buildings when considering the city’s overall sustainability and planning for future growth.

And growth is happening rapidly. In fact, the total commercial building area for projected construction to start next year in the Chicago metropolitan region is approaching 30 million square feet, the majority of which will be comprised of smaller buildings.
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New Mortgage Leads to Residential Solar

June 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

By Linda Seggelke

What if a homeowner decides to purchase solar panels? The most routine and most cost-efficient route to residential solar is through leasing. But a new type of mortgage now makes solar ownership a possibility.

The HomeStyle Energy Mortgage is a new product from giant investor Fannie Mae. It is intended to allow homeowners the ability to purchase solar panels or make other energy-efficient home upgrades. Because it makes use of long-term lending, the loan can be had for less than 4% interest.
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Shedd Aquarium Installs Mega Battery

June 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Water and electricity don’t mix, right? Well, sometimes they do. As part of its ongoing Master Energy Roadmap, the Shedd Aquarium just installed a one-megawatt battery—the largest such battery installation in Illinois and the first of its kind to be installed at a zoo or aquarium in the nation.
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Chicago Selects New Chief Resilience Officer

May 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Like other global cities, Chicago faces many challenges at the outset of the 21st Century. Overcoming these requires an ability to be resilient, to bounce back from adversity and to over-prepare for eventual hardship. To help in this fight, Aaron Koch has been named the first Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) in Chicago.
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Online Templates Facilitate Green Infrastructure

March 16, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

By Matt Baker

Flooding is a persistent problem in the Midwest, one that is only intensifying with climate change. Some studies suggest that 100-year flood events could occur as frequently as every 20 years and a study from Washington University in St. Louis last year claimed that federal estimates of these historic events could be short by as much as five feet. A new online toolkit hopes to address these challenges, providing communities across the region with a free solution to their flooding problems.
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Q&A: Chief Sustainability Officer Chris Wheat

March 16, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

By Matt Baker

For Chris Wheat, numbers don’t lie. “In God we trust,” reads a sign in his City Hall office. “All others must bring data.” Wheat, 35, was recently announced as Chicago’s new Chief Sustainability Officer and Senior Policy Advisor after the departure of Karen Weigert.
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