Green Roofs Are An Urban Paradise

Green roofs are pretty great because they assist in flood prevention and can grow crops. Indeed, green roofs are growing in popularity around the world because they are great for cleaning air and cooling cities too! It’s almost as if many urban problems can be solved by converting unused space into usable green environs.

In Chicago green roofs are being planted throughout the city and are proving to be very beneficial. The New Republic decided to reveal the mini-paradises that these small roofs can create.

By 2050, 2.5 billion more people are projected to leave the countryside for the city; in the United States alone, urban land will more than double by 2100. Faced with what scientists call “the urban heat island effect,” cities around the world are encouraging the development of roof gardens. These blankets of wildflowers, grasses, and sometimes even vegetables reduce water runoff, absorb carbon dioxide, and lower temperatures. Chicago is home to the world’s largest rooftop farm: The two acres of land atop a soap factory supply a million pounds of vegetables a year.

Read (and see) more.

Chicago Wants to be a World Class Bicycle City

Chicago politicians understand that people in their city commute sustainably via bicycles and that this is a great component to their transit planning. What’s more is that by building proper infrastructure for cyclists they can draw people to the city and show the world what the future looks like – again. Over at Roads Were Not Built For Cars they provide a very interesting historical perspective on the bicycle in Chicago and how it relates to cities today.

“Bicycling is an integral part of Chicago’s transportation system. Every day, thousands of people bike on our streets, whether it is to ride to work, to the store, or for recreation…My vision is to make Chicago the most bike-friendly city in the United States…Over the next few years, we will build more protected bike lanes than any other city in the country, redesign intersections to ensure they are safer for bicyclists, and improve hundreds of miles of residential streets for bicyclists, pedestrians, and the people that live on them.”

Read the full article.

Skateboarders Help Transform Urban Environments

Skateboarding culture is often (wrongly) lumped together with criminal behaviour amongst youth. To those that still think that way, you should check out a study in the most recent Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability.

By looking at what young skateboarders would do in the city of Chicago the researchers found out that skateboarding culture is a great thing for urban environments. It’s good to see a positive take on a group of people who often get brushed aside.

Young people appropriate and redefine built environments through their everyday playful practices. Among a widening spectrum of young city dwellers, skateboarders transform urban spaces by exploring terrains and performing unforeseen uses. These urban explorations ascribe new meanings and pleasures to otherwise mundane built forms. Waxing ledges is a ubiquitous practice among skateboarders that signals creative appropriation through the application of wax on rough surfaces. The smoothening of ledges enables speed and exhilaration, while the traces engraved on the urban landscape communicate to other skateboarders a pleasurable space.

Read the abstract and full article here.

Proposed Chicago Tower Cleans the Air and Looks Great

Chicago is already internationally known for his stunning architecture and that reputation is set to continue with a new eco-tower. The CO2ngress Gateway Towers will bring the skyline into the 21st century because that building is focused on cleaning the air that people in Chi-town breath.

In attempt to cut down on Chicago’s CO2 emissions produced from cars in the Eisenhower Expressway, Danny Mui & Benjamin Sahagun propose the splitting of the Congress Gateway Towers, using a system of carbon scrubbers and filtration devices that clean carbon dioxide and other air pollutants. Aimed to increase public awareness and improve of Chicago’s public health, the CO2ngress Gateway Towers absorb the CO2 emissions from passing cars and is then fed to algae grown in the building. The algae then helps with the processing of biofuels which will supply the building residents’ eco-friendly cars.

The two towers split and converge at the top to create an iconic gateway to the city. A bridge joins the two towers and contains a public restaurant with views of neighboring buildings. Pedestrian connections are landscaped at the base, accentuating the building’s car-centric identity. Located at the crown of the towers are the carbon scrubbers which capture CO2 and other air pollutants. These scrubbers are the first step in the processing of biofuel.

Read more here.

Sears Tower to Undergo $350 Million Green Retrofit

You may already now that Sears Tower is getting a huge energy retrofit costing $350 million because it’s got a lot of media attention. Still, it’s really good to see old office towers see the benefit of spending a lot of money on increasing efficiency of their buildings.

Operators of the nearly 36-year-old, 110-story building say they have cut annual electricity consumption by 34 percent since 1989 and that increased energy efficiency has reduced annual CO2 emissions by 51 pounds since 1984.
Proposed renewables at Sears Tower.
Their five-year renovation plan is expected to bring base building electricity consumption down by 80 percent. The reduction is estimated to be equivalent to 68 million kilowatt hours or 150,000 barrels of oil a year. The retrofit project is also expected to slash annual water consumption by 24 million gallons. And the work is expected to create 3,600 jobs.

The improvements, detailed on the Sears Tower website, are to involve replacing and glazing the 16,000 single-pane windows; and upgrading boilers, elevators, escalators, lighting restroom fixtures and water management systems.
Sears Tower and hotel.
Wind turbines, solar panels to heat water for the building and green roofs are to be installed on various terraces and tiered roofs of the complex.

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