Chicago’s Environmental Leadership Showcased
by Ted Fischer
May 22, 2006
Chicago is not only known for its rich history and culinary sensations, it is also recognized for its dedication to environmental projects, city landscapes and the ability to turn Brownfield’s and empty plots of land into modern marvels.
At the Conference of Mayors National Summit on Energy and the Environment, hosted by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Environmental Commissioner Sadhu Johnston and members of Daley’s environmental team led mayors on tours of some of the city’s most innovative work. The tours gave visiting mayors the ability to see how Chicago has led the way to a cleaner environment with stops at Millennium Park where two buildings feature state of the art solar photovoltaic (PV) walls that add power 24-7 to the city’s grid and powers Millennium Park, and a guided tour of some of the cities scenic highway median gardens as well as a state of the art, energy efficient bike facility.
The mayors were also given a tour of the Chicago Center for Green Technology, which is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum certified facility, a rated system established by the U.S. Green Building Council. The center’s roof is lined with solar panels to provide the facility with power and 100 percent recycled materials are found throughout the building. The facility even has a geothermal heating and cooling system that provides air to the facility and automatic dimming light levels, which determine how much light is needed when natural light is present, reducing energy consumption. Cork floors line the hallways and recycled materials are used for bookshelves and desks. The ceiling tiles are made from 100 percent recycled newspaper.
Chicago also is providing best practice management techniques for its residents by providing a green building resource center which is staffed seven days a week to help homeowners, builders and designers decide on new ways to make homes energy efficient. There is even a room in the resource center filled with samples of green building materials for visitors to handle before installing.
Chicago also presents an opportunity to see the world famous city hall roof-top garden where there are more then 150 types of flowers and plants. Completed in 2001, the city’s rooftop garden was designed to test different types of green-roof systems, the benefit of heating and cooling, and the success rates of native and non-native vegetation. A reduction in storm water runoff was also a concern due to the debris, chemicals, and other pollutants that flow into city storm sewer systems.
More information on Chicago’s Environmental Action Agenda, The Chicago Center for Green Technology and LEED can be found on our website at usmayors.org/uscm/brownfields