Green is all around us

Those who think green represents spring may think we have jumped the gun with the title of this article. What we are referring to are examples of green architecture in the nearby area.

The LEED homepage provides a four-page list of examples of green architecture. The following are a few that could have an influence on architectural practices in our part of Illinois:

• Central Supply Facility, Argonne National Laboratory

• Federal Building United States Court House, Youngstown, Ohio

• Project Development Center, Harley-Davidson Motors, Wauwatosa,Wis.

• Bachelor Enlisted Quarters, Great Lakes Naval Training Center

• Technology Center, Johnson Controls, Inc., Milwaukee, Wis.

• Q Building Lab, Pharmacia, Skokie, Ill.

• The Chicago Center for Green Technology, Chicago, Ill.

We will focus on the Chicago Center for Green Technology, which was built on a former brownfield as a model for sustainable design. It houses a variety of facilities including a green building library for professionals, a Green Corp. urban landscaping job training center, the Spire photovoltaic production facility, offices of Spire Corporation and the Chicago Chapter of the Green Building Council.

The building highlights a number of environmental features including a ground source heat pump that provides heating and cooling, solar electric panels on the roof, sun shading awnings on the south side, bioswales of varying terrain to capture and hold rainwater for use in watering the lawn which are planted with native species, and lights that automatically adjust lighting levels in response to outside light and also turn on and off as people enter and leave the room.

Chicago efforts do not end with the Green Technology Center but are being incorporated thoughout the city. Solar panels assembled at the Center are being installed on schools, museums and publicly-owned facilities. The intent is to have 20 percent of the city’s electrical needs met by renewable energy on publicly-owned facilities. Six museums now house 500kW of solar electric production facilities on their roofs, and more are being added.

Three alternative energy refueling stations built with green principles in mind service the municipal fleet of natural gas-powered vehicles. Four historic Chicago bungalows have been remodeled using green technologies and strategies. They have been shown to owners of similar homes to encourage them to incorporate green remodeling concepts into their buildings.

A recently created Sustainable Design Award contest should help stimulate additional interest in the community. A bi-annual competition will reward building owners who incorporate innovative technologies and practices that enhance occupant health and well-being while reducing operational costs and conserving natural resources. The three categories of awards are given for:

• Residential projects—homes, apartments and dormitories and similar facilities;

• Non-residential—offices, stores, factories, school buildings, nature centers, libraries and similar facilities;

• Student proposal—green building design submissions by college and university students.

For several years, Frank Schier, editor and publisher of The Rock River Times, has been trying to stimulate interest in projects like these in the Rockford area. The substantial amount of public construction being undertaken offers a wonderful opportunity to incorporate environmentally sustainable building features into new construction and remodeling. We, our children and our grandchildren will be living with and in these buildings and paying their operating costs. We know there are better ways to build—it takes local leadership to make sure it happens.

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