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When It Rains, It Drains

October 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

westmont1By Matt Baker

Our infrastructure relies on asphalt and concrete. Few materials can hold up as long as they do and none as cheaply. They are so durable in part because of their impregnability, a strength that unfortunately creates a problem.

These impervious surfaces direct rain into the sewer system; during heavy storm events, the sewers are often overburdened and the contents—now stormwater mixed with effluent—often discharge back into streams, rivers and lakes. This poor handling of stormwater also exacerbates flooding and soil erosion.

So how do you fix the flaws of an impenetrable material? Poke some holes in it.
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Above and Beyond: Oakton’s Science Center Reaches Toward Sustainability

October 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

Oakton Community College’s new science building is a study in buoyancy. It has a deceptively small footprint as stilts lift much of the structure up off of the ground; a spectacular cantilever gives definition to what might have been a conservative design and suggests that the building is set to dive nose first into the nearby lake. But these aren’t merely aesthetic choices. They have much to say about the building, its use and its sustainability. Read More…

Green Infrastructure Mimics Nature to Fight Stormwater

September 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

By Marilyn Witney, ICN Pro, AMG
Marketing Director, Midwest Ecological Landscape Alliance

Ball_smallWhen astronomers search for life beyond our earth, they look for the one thing vital to all life as we know it: water. But this resource, the only one that drops right from the sky to our doorstep, free of charge, is not limitless. Just ask anyone in California or Texas this past summer.

Here in Chicago, it seems that most of the time we have way too much water. Last year, we experienced historic rain events. In part due to climate change, this is becoming the new normal. Storms are more frequent, more intense and less predictable. This season has already had above average precipitation, climbing again toward historic levels. In August, numerous areas received more than the normal rain expected for the entire month in just one day . All of this has added up to millions of dollars in damage for municipalities and landowners, along with heartache and loss because of flood-damaged homes, businesses and recreation areas.
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One of the Newest CPS Schools is Also the Greenest

March 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Goode5By Matt Baker

The Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy opened its doors in 2012, but it doesn’t have a single student. Here, pupils are “innovators.” As its name suggests, the high school specializes in science, technology, engineering and math. These are the areas of study from which future jobs are likely to spring; this is where future innovation lies.

But the students aren’t the only innovators involved, as one of the newest Chicago public schools is also the greenest. Located in Chicago’s Ashburn community, Sarah E. Goode STEM has been recognized with several awards, including an Excellence in Engineering Award from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. The school has also been certified LEED Platinum by the USGBC—a first in the state.
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Hedge Fund: Rebates for Your Sustainable Back Yard

December 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

By Linda Seggelke

In 2010 the City of Chicago established an educational and incentive program that highlights the many ways that Chicagoans can create more environmentally friendly landscapes. The program, titled Chicago’s Sustainable Backyards Program, is now being managed by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT). As more and more individuals become concerned about the negative impact we have on the city, the country and even the planet, the sustainable backyards program allows property owners to garner rebates while improving the look and efficiency of their yard.
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Chicago River Improvements Include New Boathouses, Pollution Controls

September 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Click to enlarge.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Monday a plan to enhance the Chicago River’s recreational appeal. The future development would be grounded by four new boathouses, several new boat launches, expansion of riverfront trails and pollution controls of the famed waterway.
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Scorecards, Standards and Certifications: Rethinking Chicago’s Infrastructure

December 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jon Sedey

Chicago has more than eighty-eight LEED-certified buildings, thirty-two of which are city-owned, making Chicago top in the nation in LEED-certified municipal buildings. In addition to that, Chicago is among the top in the nation in green roofs with 600 planned, under-construction or completed, totaling approximately eight million square feet. By all appearances, city officials seem to understand the benefits of environmentally-sound buildings and will continue to promote green building.
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Hubble Middle School: Designing for the Future

December 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

When School District 200 approached Legat Architects seeking a firm to design a new middle school for the Wheaton/Warrenville area, they had specific requests and parameters. What school officials didn’t expect was to have the tables turned on them. “If you were to design your own workspace or classroom, what would you design it to be?” That’s the question Legat’s Patrick Brosnan, who served as principal on the project, put to the faculty and staff. “In fifty years, how would you be using the classroom? Because it will still be there in fifty years.”
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