SkyscraperCity Forum banner

Green Chicago

2592 Views 10 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  BorisMolotov
The City of Chicago seems to take great pride in its efforts to be environmentally friendly. The city has a pretty good reputation for being green. Mayor Daley has lots of plans concerning the city and its environmental impact. There are some notable accomplishments like the numerous green roofs. Right now Chicago is seen as a pioneer in urban environmental policies.

This thread is for news and discussion concerning Chicago eco-impact. Its open for things we are doing right and things we are doing wrong. Its for discussion of our lake and rivers, green buildings, green business, new technology, eco-friendly tranportation, recycling, state and city policies, etc.

I thought it was a good idea for a thread, we'll see.
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Green Inc.

May 19, 2009, 9:23 AM
Green Roofs: Are They Worth the Expense?

Richard M. Daley, the mayor of Chicago, told a panel at the Harvard Club of New York on Monday that he aims to make his city the “most environmentally friendly city in the world.”

A key part of Mr. Daley’s vision involves “green roofs” — the idea of putting plants, and even a few trees, on top of buildings. Chicago already has more than 600 “green roofs,” the mayor said — including one over its City Hall, which even has a couple of beehives.
See less See more
It might not be as immediately practical as simply painting the roofs white or reflective, but the key difference is that green roofs do stuff other than simply reduce the urban heat island effect. Plus, it's nifty!
Hmm, here is a few hits I can think of, but some might be too left field for most of you. I am a weirdo who dreams of buying up vast wastelands on the South East side and making an educational farm/industrial history museum :p Cannot forget the roots of our city.

When I lived in Italy for a bit, we had giant recycling bins at the end of each block. "Looks at the alley outside my window" sure could use a better recycling program, that sewer across the street has been clogged for ages. Lots of 2-3 story buildings here with with flat roofs, so there is lot of potential for "green roofs" made from better material, and incorporating small food gardens or solar/wind if that ever gets plausible.

Another "green" solution would to improve already standing structures rather than knock them down and build a plywood and dry wall nightmare out of the suburbs.

The "chicago wilds", south of Roosevelt should become our experiment in green development. If it doesn't become a nice wonderful restored prairie jewel in the middle of our city (like how a certain city in Brazil has a rain forest in the middle of their city) I believe the development on that land should focus on green architecture and urban planning. Naturalistic river front all have access to, not just pavement to the bank only condo owners can enjoy, landscaping with Native plant, many open spaces/parks, mixed retail with residential, mixed income, etc.

More open spaces, more little parks, gardens, squares, community food gardens, better river access to all citizens, rather than just condo owners. Use of native plants in city landscaping. Lots of plants going to waste in each season. This also can save water, for many of our native plants, especially some of the prairie ones are very drought tolerant.

I hope you can still have chickens in your yard here, I heard they were going to make it illegal, and that would be a shame. When I had family on the south east side I would see chickens, goats, turkey-you name it-in peoples yards.

BTW I am a fan of the Chicago Honey co-op, yes they get honey from hives on some of our downtown skyscrapers and other areas, and more programs like this will lead to better green living.
See less See more
So Illinois is continuing with the oh-so-expensive "clean coal" plant, but how clean is it, actually? Anyone have actual hard data, and not just fluff from the TV advertisements and campaign speeches?
carbon capture and storage is *very* clean, in the sense that it doesn't produce carbon emissions - i don't have the sources on hand, but i've been reading about it for a while (since I first heard about it in An Inconvenient Truth).

It's *not* very clean in the sense that it still produces huge amounts of greenhouse gasses, it's just now the plant is stowing it away in a geologically-sound vault. It's basically like nuclear power (without the threat of meltdown, of course) in that as long as all the upkeep is maintained, it's pretty clean.

There are some CCS plans that are *not* clean at all. Those include plans to just spew out hte carbon under water - while these won't emit greenhouse gasses into the air, they will affect the acidity of the ocean/sea water, which has been causing problems all along developed/developing nations' coasts (australia's barrier reef anyone?)

The point of futuregen is not to test whether the concept works (i mean, it's a pretty basic concept, right?) but rather the financial viability of maintaining the facility.

Basically, I see effective CCS useful for two points -
a) retrofitting existing facilities
b) easing the transition off dirty fuels

I personally would not like to see significant use of B for the same reason as nuclear power ,and also because i don't necessarily trust every geologist to find a geologically sound vault - but then again, to the credit of B - this can combine well with technologies that the oil industry already uses, and "clean" energy is "clean" energy. I don't want to get into a nirvana fallacy in wanting *only* green energy, as there's a capacity/build up problem with that.
See less See more
More open spaces, more little parks, gardens, squares, community food gardens, better river access to all citizens, rather than just condo owners. Use of native plants in city landscaping. Lots of plants going to waste in each season. This also can save water, for many of our native plants, especially some of the prairie ones are very drought tolerant.
I think Chicago has enough parks; the city has a very enviable park system. Chicago needs more, not less density. However, the city can benefit greatly from creating new public spaces [which are not necessarily parks] in the form of squares similar to what you see in European cities...a very old yet very smart urban design concept that's largely absent from American cities.

You hit the nail on the head with native vegetation. This is important anywhere in the world, because non-native plants require far too much maintenance. Particularly if the non-native plants are indigenous to a rainier climate than your own, and/or if you're trying to sustain a plant's green color year round (through excessive use of water), when that plant is supposed to dry up during specific parts of the year when left alone in nature. This is why lawns are such an anti-environmental gardening practice particularly in dry areas of the United States (such as most of the West), but even in the Northeast and Midwest which receive regular summer rain. In the Midwest, what happens when it doesn't rain for a few weeks? In the wild, it just dries up until it rains again, but on our manicured lawns, we can't let that happen. Let alone that lawns require mowing, which releases both a greenhouse gas (CO2) and toxic pollutants into the atmosphere. One thing that the city needs to do, to complement its environmental policies, is to reduce the amount of park space that's dedicated to lawns (I mean, I know some of it is necessary, so that people can picnic and play sports, but a lot of it is meant as purely aesthetic), and to encourage homeowners to do the same. I've seen a few homes here in Chicago and in Los Angeles (which has a dry Mediterranean climate, and where lawns are a much bigger strain on water resources), where some sort of native vine (instead of grass) covered a small front lawn. Looked very nice, and the homeowner doesn't have to spend time and money maintaining it.

I think Chicago's recycling program is a complete disaster, although thankfully many suburbs are doing a decent job. Let's make one thing clear: people are not going to go out of their way to recycle. If you expect people to buy blue bags at the supermarket, already you're asking them to do too much. ManokAnak mentioned the recycling bins on each block that they have in some Italian cities (and quite a few European cities have this, actually). That's a great idea. But I think a more fitting policy for Chicago would be along the lines of what the suburbs already do: give each housing unit a recycling bin. Make it easier for people to recycle; you can't get everybody to do it, but those who are passive environmentalists (as are a lot of people) will recycle when it's easy to do so.

Most most most importantly is that Chicago (and other big cities) cannot be very green without regional, state, and national support. Chicago is -more or less- an artificial division within a greater metropolitan area that has grown organically, and without regional, state-level, and even federal support, its green initiatives won't go far. As long as county, state, and federal governments continue to allow new suburban subdivisions and exurban developments on the edges of the metropolitan area, at the expense of the main city and the older suburbs, there's not much the city can do to create a more robust economic, social, and green environment for itself. Part of the reason that people fled cities after WWII, is because the federal government was complicit in building vast expanses of wasn't the private sector and private citizens acting alone. It was a short-sighted policy intended to house people, but it was a massive failure and unfortunately, regional and state governments still have this careless attitude for regional planning issues.

On so-called "clean coal"..I find it interesting that Illinois -which is more dependent on and accustomed to nuclear energy than any other state in the country- is going ahead with this plant, instead of building a new nuclear facility. Not that nuclear doesn't come with its own environmental hazards, but it has been improved drastically in recent decades, and I haven't heard any public debate in Illinois against nuclear energy, unless there's something I'm missing?
See less See more
skyduster, you raise some good points. i fully agree with you on chicago's recycling program. when i was just a student, buying blue bags constantly was a complete pain in the ass. after i graduated, the building i moved into said they took care of recycling if you just threw trash into a certain area, but really i think they just threw it away anyway. oddly enough, my most positive experience with recycling is back hom in plano, tx (which is in one of the most right-wing conservative counties in the US). There, your dumpsters (I don't know what to call them, but they're the smaller plastic ones that individual home owners have, not hte big industrial metal ones) are subdivided into a front for normal and back for recycling. That way, you don't need any extra bags, you don't need to make a second trip to put out a recycling bin, etc. it's all sorted for you and the waste truck takes care of it. Even in Seattle, there a bunch of different bins for everything and having to subdivide my recyclables into even more subcategories (glass, boxes, cans, etc) is *super* annoying - especially since recycling is required by law here.

i also don't find it *that* interesting that clean coal is making a huge push in illionis. I mean, I fully expect a state that has like the largest reserve of coal (heavy sulfur coal, no less) to want to really push a technology that lets it tap that energy harmlessly. That being said, the worst that can happen with clean coal is that the gas is released into the air gradually through leaks, which is just as bad as if the coal plant wasn't clean at all. The worst that can happen with nuclear power is meltdown, and evne if newer designs mitigate that risk, you still have horrible nuclear waste that the government has shown to *not* be capable of managing. There's a huge backlog of waste, some agencies even just dump the bins out in the ocean, and there have been problems with ensuring that there are no leaks.
See less See more
Sears Tower owners looking to put 'green' hotel next door

By Becky Yerak and Sara Olkon | Tribune staff reporter
11:10 AM CDT, June 24, 2009

"The owners of Sears Tower will build an environmentally friendly hotel next to the skyscraper, which is also going green.

A hotel will be built at Wacker Drive and Jackson Boulevard, said John Huston of American Landmark Properties, representing the partnership that owns Sears Tower."

"Sears would likely be the tallest existing building in the world to get LEED status, the firm said.",0,187802.story
See less See more
Well in the suburbs we have (usually) 2 bins for recycling (one for plastic and glass, one for paper) and then trash cans. And you just take them to the curb. Do they do they do that in even the more residential areas in Chicago?

Also, does anyone else notice the green roofs on the Sears tower on each of the nine sections?
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.