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Iceberg! Is Your Architecture Portfolio on a Collision Course with Sustainable Design?

December 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

thumb_icebergBy Connor Jansen PE, LEED AP BD+C, Performance Consultant and Senior Project Manager, Seventhwave
Dave Vigliotta, Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships, Seventhwave

Viewing sustainability within a timeline of the last 20 years, it’s clear that the idea has spread from individual idealism to a worldwide social movement. As shapers of the built environment, architects and designers have the ability to turn this momentum into something more systematic that can be integrated into workflows and become the new norm. Many, if not most, design firms feature leading-edge sustainable buildings within their portfolio.

However, aside from a handful of publicized buildings, much of the remainder of projects are designed at or near baseline building energy codes. In other words, most projects are equivalent to the minimum energy standards allowed by law. This “iceberg” phenomenon of unseen reality represents a major threat to a sustainable built environment. There are countless projects that aren’t front and center, and highly marketed. It’s difficult to quantify these projects in our portfolio that lie beneath the surface.
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Timber Towers: Bringing Wooden Skyscrapers to the U.S.

December 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

By Andy Hehl, U.S. Manager of Kebony

In cityscapes across the world, wood is slowly but surely making its way back. Architects in Australia, England and Norway have helped spark a global resurgence in wooden skyscrapers over the past few years. But while others have been quick to follow in their footsteps, American architects haven’t yet adopted this new trend.
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Chicago Rises in Ranking of Green Office Space

October 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Chicago has moved up in a ranking of the nation’s largest metropolises on a recent survey of sustainable office space. According to the 2016 Green Building Adoption Index, over 72% of the Chicago market’s qualified commercial space is certified green, up from 63% last year. And with nearly one-fifth of all commercial buildings in the area certified, Chicago comes in at second on the list of the nation’s 30 largest markets, right behind San Francisco.
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Live Crowdfunding Event will BOOST Chicagoland Entrepreneurs

October 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

There are many great ideas out there to promote Chicago’s green economy. But the social entrepreneurs behind them are often overlooked by investors focused solely on financial concerns. Why can’t these startup ideas—with the potential to create an organization that improves the planet along with the economy—get seed funding?
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What’s the Potential for Solar Power in Your Backyard?

October 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

In 2015, Illinois added 11 MW of solar energy production, which was a 75% increase over the previous year. While this growth is encouraging, the state remains middle-of-the-pack for overall capacity, ranking 27th in the nation. So what can be done to encourage more solar panel installation?

Thanks to the Cook County Community Solar Portal, a new, interactive map developed by the Cook County Department of Environmental Control and Elevate Energy, the potential for solar power capacity in the Chicago region can now easily be ascertained. The parcel-level map allows users to do more than search the county by address; filters can fine-tune the information by property type, solar power potential, roof type and municipality or Chicago neighborhood.
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Lower Emissions, Higher Returns: The Importance of Environmental Reporting in Real Estate Investing

September 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

By Linda Seggelke

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are increasingly incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into their asset analyses. What’s more, studies have shown a strong correlation between firms that report these non-financial factors and the profitability of property owners and operators.

Real estate plays a pivotal role in determining public and environmental health. In the United States, commercial and residential real estate accounts for around 40% of both total electricity use (or roughly 39 quadrillion Btus) and carbon emissions. More and more, investors consider these risk factors. As a result, they are seeking better reporting of the ESG performance of their investments.
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IoT Technology Increases Municipal Waste Management Efficiency

September 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

By Kristina Heinze, Partner at ParkerGale

You’ve probably come across an overflowing trash bin at least once or twice if you live in a major city. That’s because cities generate more waste than other areas of residency. For example, the City of Chicago accounts for nearly 70% of all waste generated in the state of Illinois, which isn’t all that surprising knowing that population density tends to be higher in cities. More people means more garbage and, as nations become more urbanized, that number will only increase. In fact, The World Bank estimates that urban waste generation will grow by 70% in the next decade, increasing waste management expenses by $170 billion.

iot2iotBut it’s not all bad news; waste management is gaining attention from innovative companies that want to play a bigger role in the development of smart cities—an initiative that uses technology to improve urban infrastructures. They’re using the Internet of Things (IoT), a network of connected devices that communicate with each other, to help municipal collection agencies and waste management businesses increase efficiency and reduce costs. In addition, IoT technology can help entire cities reduce their carbon footprint by cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions. Here are a few ways that cities and municipalities can create sustainable futures with smart city technologies.

Sensor Technology Reduces Trips and Saves Costs

Most municipalities have collection agencies that depend on a system of scheduled pickups, but what they may not realize is that often haulers are servicing containers that are empty or only partially full. By servicing these containers, haulers are making unnecessary stops, which not only wastes money and fuel but also increases the amount of carbon emissions in our atmosphere. Companies are addressing this problem by equipping trash containers with machine to machine (M2M) sensors.

For example, OnePlus Systems, a Northbrook-based manufacturer of remote fullness and control technology systems, adds sensors to industrial compactors in local hotspots like Navy Pier. By measuring fill-levels of these compactors through sensors, these companies can reduce the frequency of pickups by signalling their waste hauler for disposal services only when a compactor is full. In fact, OnePlus’ fullness monitors have been proven to reduce the number of pickups by an average of 40%, saving local agencies millions of dollars on hauling fees and reducing methane emissions—the second most prevalent greenhouse gas in the U.S.

Creating Better, More Efficient Routes

M2M sensors have many benefits. Not only can they measure fill-levels, but they can also help agencies make their hauling routes more efficient. SmartBin, a global provider of intelligent remote monitoring systems for the waste and recycling sectors, developed and deployed smart routing software to help Australia-based Corio Waste Management optimize their collection runs.

Corio was given the task of collecting trash in a province where collection points were spread out over 10 to 15 kilometers. Corio’s haulers made long trips only to find the trash bins they had come across were either partly full or completely empty. SmartBin addressed this problem by installing sensors into the bins, connecting them to a larger IoT system and deploying state-of-the-art routing software. This gave Corio the ability to monitor the fill-levels of each bin and adjust their hauling routes to make pickups only for bins that were full or near full. By using SmartBin’s connected technology, Corio not only cut down on costs but also reduced its carbon footprint.

Tracking Bins, Monitoring Progress with Cutting Edge Logistics

In addition to waste management, SmartBin’s IoT devices have also been applied to the nonprofit and recycling industries. For example, SmartBin aided Goodwill, which collects thousands of pounds of recycled and donated materials, by using a connected operations platform. Located in most major cities, Goodwill would send their drivers out at regular intervals to empty collection bins and record fill-levels. The organization quickly realized that this procedure was neither economically nor environmentally sustainable. SmartBin’s connected IoT platform helped Goodwill remotely identify the bins that needed pickups and map their routes accordingly, saving the organization both time and resources.

Building smart, sustainable cities will require further innovation as populations continue to grow and budgets continue to shrink, but industry leaders like OnePlus and SmartBin are paving the way with IoT solutions that help businesses and municipalities cut costs, better manage natural resources, and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Photo: Tony Jacobson


About The Author

Kristina Heinze is a Partner at ParkerGale, a private equity firm that acquires profitable, founder-owned software and technology-enabled services companies and helps them with their product development, sales and growth strategy. ParkerGale is an investor in OnePlus Corp.

Helping Teens Help the Environment

September 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

There are about a dozen teenagers in the room chattering excitedly, with more filtering in. Their voices echo off the walls since the space is still sparsely decorated; there are some plantings by the window, crafts along a ledge, and large sheets of paper up on the walls with the group’s goals. Be safe. Be social. Step out of your comfort zone. Take initiative.

This is the Green Creation Crew, a program funded in partnership by the YMCA of Metro Chicago and After School Matters. For six weeks this summer, teens from all around the city took part in this STEM program with a focus on energy and sustainability. They worked in teams to develop and execute environmental efficiency plans—pitching sustainable improvements to “clients,” actually making those improvements and then assessing their work afterward.
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Lobbying for Change: 200 West Madison Shows Off its Sustainability

September 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

Like the foyer to a home, the spot where you shake off your umbrella before venturing further into the building, the most welcoming part of a skyscraper is its lobby. The interaction between a lobby and a visitor or tenant can also be demonstrative of the building on whole. Is it close and dark or open and engaging? Do people rush through or do some sit and converse?

Prospective tenants take note of lobbies too. And while location and amenities remain the principal factors in a site search, businesses now pay closer attention to the impact of the built environment on employee health and productivity. There are a number of ways to proclaim your building’s sustainability right when people walk in the door.
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Two Tiny Houses Open for Tours in Chicago

August 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Would you like to get a look at some diminutive domiciles? Quaint quarters? Some Lilliputian lodgings? This may be your best chance, as two tiny homes will kick off a cross-country tour in Chicago next week.
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