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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

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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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