Award Winning Chicago Green Building

February 19, 2007

2020 W Rice-Elevation: Photo Credit: Chicagoland Avenues Green building isn't a style, it's an approach. While there may be common features that appear in many green homes and buildings, there is not a single style that all green buildings follow. Instead of just talking about the pieces of green buildings, it is also important to take a look at completed projects, to get a sense of what green buildings can look like. The examples we show here are never going to be more than a tiny fraction of the green buildings being constructed all over the globe. But hopefully these will provide some inspiration for considering green building, and give a sense of the breadth of possibility available while building green.

2020 W. Rice Street in Chicago is an award-winning project by Wolbrink Architects. It is the first EnergyStar rated multifamily building in Chicago, and was awarded a Mayor's GreenWorks award for Green Buildings Market Transformation.

The building follows a typical Chicago form: the 3-flat. The three units are called Garden Unit (the lowest level, half below-grade), Bay Unit (a half flight above grade), and Penthouse Unit (the top two floors).

An article from the GreenBean blog outlines the many green features of this building:

"The project includes many of the typical features expected on a small green development: compact fluorescent lighting, low-VOC paints, recycled-content carpet, sustainably harvested flooring, locally manufactured materials, etc. The outdoor patio has permeable pavers and the garage has a green roof. It's also nice how the building design respects the neighboring buildings, with a two-story gabled front elevation (matching the neighbors) and the more modern third floor set back a bit – this is atypical in speculative development that often seeks to maximize floor area."

Additionally, the building has high efficiency heating systems, and as can be seen in the photographs, each of the units (even the bottom floor Garden Unit) have lots of daylight. The architect has said that energy efficiency is the primary reason for doing green building. But indoor air quality (by using low- or zero-VOC paints and glues) was also an aspect of this project. Many of the materials were also locally sourced, rather than relying on materials with greater shipping impacts coming from distant suppliers.

One of the constant concerns in green building is how to ensure that the building gets built green. Wolbrink not only designed the building, but also managed the construction, thereby ensuring that the building was built with the green measures they intended.

A portfolio of pictures of the building is on the architect's website.

As a followup to this project, the firm is now working on "Phase II" nearby at 2012-14 W. Rice Street, which will be an additional 5 condos, and is to be built as part of the LEED for Homes pilot program.via: GreenBean and Chicagoland Avenues