Those April showers we got this weekend were poetic, closing out Green week. We rode along with 40 others Friday on USGBC?s Biodiesel Trolley Tour to see some of Chicago?s most innovative LEED buildings, making three stops in the CBD and exploring alternative energy sources, daylighting in office spaces, building reuse and the city's first LEED-certified hotel.
Tom Polucci at HOK Architecture showed us the firm's new space to kick off the tour. They emphasize an open floor plate with only two offices, allowing ?borrowed daylight? to reach even the interior rooms. Tom says this sometimes causes problems for people with loud neighbors (he admits he's an offender) but that it's worth the sacrifice. HOK moved from the Inland Steel Building to 60 E. Monroe last winter, and Tom helped other designers plan and build out in just ten weeks. The office also features reclaimed wood from felled trees from Chicago parks and a carbon dioxide monitoring system.
Next stop: the PepsiCo Sustainability Center at Jefferson and Monroe, where tour attendees learned wind and solar energy are being used at Pepsi facilities worldwide.These wind turbines/ solar panels on the rooftop are the first in the Windy City and provide about 50% of the energy used in the 3k SF exhibit about sustainability on the building's first floor. Pepsi reused or recycled nearly every material in the center from blue-jean insulation to PETA chip paneling to oat hulls from their own Quaker Oats in the exhibit boards. All they need now is a way to re-use the caffeine boost we get from drinking Pepsi.
We motored on to Hotel Felix in River North. The hotel just opened last week, but as general manager Mike Zels shows us, they've already got plenty of laundry to do. Doing it in-house saves money, energy and water for the hotel, which was built in the early 20th century. The Felix also uses Ecolab products, which are biodegradable. Spa products, in-room shampoos and soap,s and even the coffee are also eco-friendly. The building was designed by Gettys and is currently working with the city to get on the Green Seal hotel list.