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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

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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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Filling in the Gaps at 515 North State

June 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

 By Matt Baker

You may be forgiven for thinking that there is something missing from the building at the corner of State and Grand. After all, its most distinctive feature is the four-story section omitted from the northwest corner. But behind its sharp angles and glass façade, 515 North State Street has a story to tell.
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It’s Not Just About Growth: Sustainable Master Plans Reframe the Big Picture

June 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A $220 million sustainable master plan helped Joliet Junior College, the nation's first public community college, respond to projected enrollment increases and future shifts in energy prices. It resulted in a climate action plan, six LEED buildings and a college-wide cultural shift toward sustainability. Credit: Joliet Junior College

A $220 million sustainable master plan helped Joliet Junior College, the nation’s first public community college, respond to projected enrollment increases and future shifts in energy prices. It resulted in a climate action plan, six LEED buildings and a college-wide cultural shift toward sustainability. Credit: Joliet Junior College

By Vuk Vujovic and Douglas Ogurek

To most building owners, doing the right thing for the environment feels great. But doing the right the thing for the bottom line at the same time feels twice as great.

Unsurprisingly, the main reason that building owners green their facilities is to save money. According to a survey by McGraw-Hill Construction, four of the “top ten triggers for green building programs” (among K-12 and higher education institutions) relate directly to future cost savings. “Reduce energy use” and “operating cost savings” claim the top of the list.
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Can Concrete Be Sustainable?

June 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

concrete_1Concrete, industry proponents will tell you, is one of the most sustainable building materials on the market. It is incredibly durable, made from abundant materials, has a low thermal transmittance and it is recyclable. All of these are true. Unfortunately, it is also an enormous source of carbon dioxide emissions.

Cement, to be precise, is the real culprit. Portland cement typically composes a little more than 10% of concrete’s volume, but 90% of its carbon footprint. Given how ubiquitous concrete is as a building material, something needs to be done to lower these emissions.
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IIT Takes First Prize in Water Saving Competition

June 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Linda Seggelke

The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) recently took home first prize in the Campus RainWorks Challenge among small institutions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Challenge to increase awareness and to inspire the upcoming engineers, landscape architects and planners to focus on infrastructure that helps manage stormwater, improve water quality and prevent flooding caused by heavy rains on a college or university campus. The winning team consisted of a faculty advisor and 14 graduate and undergraduate students from various disciplines including landscape architecture, environmental management, business and engineering.
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Building Green Chicago 2013

June 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

Karen Weigert, Chicago Chief Sustainability Officer.

Karen Weigert, Chicago Chief Sustainability Officer.

For seven years, Index Publishing has hosted the Building Green Chicago Conference & Expo in downtown Chicago. This annual event brings together sustainable leaders from the private and public sectors, hundreds of attendees and companies and organizations eager to show off their solutions for making our built environment greener.
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Sustainability is Above Board at Chicago’s Newest Harbor

March 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

31st_Okrent_smBears season tickets. That is possibly the only waiting list in Chicago longer than the one to get a boat slip. With marina demand so large, the need for a new harbor was evident. The Chicago Park District conducted a study of the lakefront in 2005 to determine the best spot for a new marina. At the top of that list was one location: 31st Street.
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Mode Shift: Getting Around Chicago More Sustainably

March 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

wabash_elIn 2009, according the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 120 million Americans commuted to work. Despite the rising cost of fuel, the vast majority of them—76%—drove alone. Only 5% took some sort of public transit and less than 1% traveled by bicycle.
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