Sustainability in High Places

On a recent trip to Chicago, I went on a river tour of their downtown Architecture.  I learned  lot about the various styles of buildings from historically inspired and art deco to mid century modern, post modern and contemporary and how they visually tried to integrate any new buildings by using details from nearby buildings to make it seem to fit.

The environmental fact that interested me is that as these styles changed, so did their energy efficiency.  I was surprised me to know that some of these very tall skyscrapers are LEED (Leadership in Energy  and Environmental Design) certified, thus saving money and increasing energy efficiency.

One example they gave of this is 111 South Wacker.  The previous building at that site was then the tallest building in Chicago to be demolished.  The current 51-story, blue glass structure is a striking example of creative problem solving and was completed in 2005.  It achieved Chicago’s first LEED (Gold) certification.  Among other features, the building has a green roof. But designers were concerned about plants surviving 65 floors up, so their green roof houses alpine species.  For more information about this and other Chicago architecture, as well as information about architectural boat tours, click here:

 –Lorraine McCarty

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