Greenworks Eco-industrial Park in Chicago Epitomizes Economic Synergy

greenworks.jpgThe former city auto pound along with a 17 acre illegal dumpsite are the unlikely site of an emerging eco-industrial park in Chicago on the 400 north block of Sacramento. This forward thinking is putting Chicago on the map as a green city and breathing life into this disadvantaged area on the west-side of Chicago.
In 1995, the site of the Chicago Center for Green Technology (CCGT) was plagued by illegal dumping by Sacramento Crushing. After the Chicago Department of Environment (DOE) took possession of the property, the plot was cleared of over 600,000 tons of concrete waste, requiring 45,000 truck-loads to remove. The existing building, built in 1952, was renovated from 1999-2002 using the greenest design innovations of its day. Now a source of pride for the DOE, the building makes good use of the sun with three photovoltaic solar systems (totaling 72 kW), a greenhouse heated only by sunlight, and maximizes the use of sunlight for office lighting. A ground source heat pump aids in heating and cooling the building and a rooftop garden serves as insulation. Four 12,000 gallon cisterns gather rainwater from the building, while ground rainwater is diverted into bioswales that lead to adjacent wetlands.

This cutting edge building renovation came with a large price tag of $5.4 million. The adjacent lot, currently being developed by Christy Webber Landscapes aims to keep both construction and energy operating costs low. For example, the building contains a 10 panel solar thermal array installed by Solar Service that heats water and assists with space heating yet doesn’t contain a photovoltaic array because the payback period is much longer for this technology.
The 18,000 square foot headquarters of Christy Webber Landscapes began construction in the fall of 2005 and was dedicated on December 6th, 2006. This building is adjacent to the CCGT and is seeking a gold LEED (Leadership in Environment and Environmental Design) certification by incorporating numerous innovative features. A greenhouse is the air intake site for the ventilation system. A retention pond located on the premises can handle a 100 year storm event for the entire plot. Rainwater is collected from the roof and put on trucks to be used by the landscaping company. The building makes good use of a solar thermal system that works in partnership with the geothermal systems and provides heat, shades the entryway, and heats water. As you might expect in the windy city, a 67’ wind tower will be constructed to house two 2 kW wind turbines. A green roof will be planted that will feature trees, serving both as insulation and to reduce the heat island effect.
Both the CCGT and the Christy Webber Landscapes buildings were designed by Farr Associates and will serve as green business incubators in Chicago. The tenants of the CCGT are environmentally focused businesses and Christy Webber Landscapes intends to develop more of the property and attract complementary businesses. The Eco-Industrial Park Handbook for Asian Developing Countries describes the purpose of an eco-industrial park as:

The goal of an EIP is to improve the economic performance of the participating companies while minimizing their environmental impacts. Components of this approach include green design of park infrastructure and plants (new or retrofitted); cleaner production, pollution prevention; energy efficiency; and inter-company partnering. An EIP also seeks benefits for neighboring communities to assure that the net impact of its development is positive

This initiative is a healthy improvement for a neighborhood plagued by violence, drugs, and environmental contamination. The DOE planted a seed for urban renewal that is being fostered by Christy Webber Landscapes and can continue to grow over time as other companies join in this vision.
(Sarah Feinstein, Renewable Energy Specialist, Solar Service Inc)

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