#33 Preservation and Sustainability

Older buildings are threatened with demolition on a daily basis. Buildings are not always torn down because they are dilapidated or beyond repair but because they are considered out of date. So developers tear down the existing urban fabric to build new energy efficient structures with green technology. They do so in the name of sustainability.

Contrary to popular belief the greenest building is one that is already built. Vintage buildings are often energy efficient, though they may lack some modern amenities. Buildings constructed before 1940 were more energy efficient than those built in the next 35 years because they were typically built with climate control in mind, and they do not rely heavily on energy consumptive methods of climate control. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, buildings built before 1920 consume nearly the same amount of energy to buildings constructed after 2000 that took energy efficiency into account.

Demolition of the existing urban environment and building new is not the way to create sustainable cities. Any re-urbanization plan needs to have a preservation component in order for it to be sustainable.  Preserving an old building does not lead to the production of more solid waste or energy use from construction. Saving historic buildings contributes to the culture and character of the urban environment. It promotes sustainability through energy efficiency and economics.

Works Cited

Alter, L. (2012). Proof that the Greenest Building is the One Already Standing Released in New Report from Preservation Green Lab. Retrieved from treehugger.com: https://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/proof-greenest-building-one-already-standing-released-new-report-preservation-green-lab.html

Gromicko, N. (2015). Enhancing Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings. Retrieved from InterNACHI: https://www.nachi.org/energy-efficiency-historic-buildings.htm

Lant, K. (2017). We Just Blew Through Another Climate Change Milestone. Retrieved from futurism.com: https://futurism.com/we-just-blew-through-another-climate-change-milestone/

Murphy, K. D. (2015). When a house is demolished, more than the home is lost. Retrieved from The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/when-a-house-is-demolished-more-than-the-home-is-lost-42579

NPS. (n.d.). Historic preservation is inherently a sustainable practice. Retrieved from National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/tps/sustainability.htm

Prakash, M., & Jones, D. (2017). Cities aren’t using their key tool for climate action: Urban planning. Retrieved from Citiscope: http://citiscope.org/commentary/2017/09/cities-arent-using-their-key-tool-climate-action-urban-planning

Rypkema, D. D. (2005). Economics, Sustainability and Historic Preservation. Retrieved from Preservation Trust of Vermont: http://ptvermont.org/economics-sustainability-and-historic-preservation-by-donovan-d-rypkema/



29: Water, Lead and Sustainable Pipes

USAV Video Summary

This video, featuring all original recordings and text, summarizes the two issues – and their tandem solutions – that our group outlined over the course of our USAV papers.

The video starts by acknowledging that while Chicagoans should have access to some of the cleanest drinking water in the region, city mismanagement has lead to a looming crisis of lead poisoning.

Next, the video summarizes how the city continues to make a bad situation worse, citing the same Tribune articles and research that made up the core of our USAV papers.

Finally, the video reintroduces our proposed solutions – PVC pipes, and a commitment from the city of Chicago to help homeowners get rid of their lead ones.




Transit Oriented Development: A Sustainable Approach to Combatting Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Chicago

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Illinois finds itself amongst the leaders in greenhouse gas emissions nationally in 2015, emitting over 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Chicago, the biggest city in Illinois, presents a concentration of human activity that creates opportunity for the city to coordinate efforts to reduce greenhouse gases thus improving the quality of life for citizens locally, nationally, and globally. The City has identified five categories in order to achieve GHG reduction targets: buildings, clean and renewable energy sources, transportation, waste and pollution, and adaptation. While there have been efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Chicago over the last decade, proof of successful reduction is minimal when approached through each of these five categories individually rather than collectively.

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Through comparable data presented from 2005, 2010, and 2015 (Figure 2) it is evident that there has been an overall reduction in carbon emissions, from ~36.9 million metric tons in 2005 to ~32.6 million metric tons in 2015. This data categorizes these GHG emissions further into five main sectors: residential buildings, commercial and institutional buildings, manufacturing industries and construction, transportation, and waste. While holistically it seems that greenhouse gas emissions are consistently lowering, through the categorization of these different sectors of emission sources the data clearly communicates which sectors are reducing their emissions consistently and which are not. Through isolating the sources of these emissions the data begins to communicate how to create more sustainable practices in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. The entire transportation sector more broadly contributes to 25% of all local emissions. Through the isolation of this sector, (Figure 4) transportation is broken down into on-road transportation, off-road transportation, aviation, railways, and waterborne navigation. While on-road transportation only contributes 16% of all GHG emissions in Chicago, on-road transportation accounts for 63% of GHG emissions specific to the transportation sector. Railway operation locally, Amtrak, CTA, Metra, etc., contribute only roughly 5% of sector emissions, thus proving as a more environmentally efficient and sustainable form of transportation. Through emphasizing development patterns that encourage more efficient and sustainable models of transit, Chicago is in turn combating the problem of greenhouse gas emission.

In order to combat greenhouse gas emissions which contribute largely to global climate change, we must investigate and deploy sustainable development patterns that serve to emphasize the reduction of the use of on-road transportation in Chicago. One development pattern in response to these emissions is ​transit-oriented development​, the new urbanist method of creating dense, mixed-use developments relative to public transportation thus eliminating the need for the residents to own an automobile. TOD can be understood as urban development’s response to a combination of urban forces: congestion, inefficiency, carbon emissions, and sprawl. This development pattern not only eliminates the residents need for a car but also works in creating walkable/cyclable neighborhoods as well as in establishing connectivity and density, thus increasing mobility while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.

Transit-oriented development seeks to bring together compact, walkable communities and quality rail systems in order to create low carbon lifestyles, enabling people to live, work, and play locally without depending on on-road transportation for mobility. The U.S. Institute for Transportation and Development Policy defines TOD as an “answer to the unsustainable, car-dependant, and transit-poor urban sprawl that has characterized the growth of cities around the world in the last century”. This lifestyle reduces energy consumption and driving by 85% and reduces the area’s carbon footprint by 44%, therefore contributing a consistent emphasis on sustainable development through the lense of reducing carbon emissions attributed to transportation.

Transit-oriented kitten

Collage created by Jordan M. Rife 2018

Works Cited:


2. Center for Neighborhood Technology. “Transit-Oriented Development in the Chicago Region Efficient and Resilient Communities for the 21st Century” (2013):1- 62

3. Institute for Transportation & Development Policy. “TOD Standard.” ITDP.org https://www.itdp.org/tod-standard/​ (accessed 2018)

4. Transit Oriented Development Institute. “Sustainability.” TOD.orghttp://www.tod.org/sustainability.html​ (accessed 2018)

5. U.S. Energy Information Administration. “Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions by State, 2000-2015” (2018): 1-30

Hybrid/Electric Buses (26)


In today’s urbanized society, airborne pollutants such as automobile emissions are causing a problem in the way we live our day to day lives. The change for ingenuity within transportation is one of many ways that can help seize the problem, within the city it’s even more drastic due to the densely populated area and use of public transit. First off, public transit is to encourage a cleaner air initiative, it is so that people won’t have to use their own personal vehicles to contribute to the greenhouse gases. Within cities there are plenty of ways to get around, on train, bus, cab, bike, ferry, cable car, it’s all dependent on the city but usually the incentives to use them are higher.  The next step is making sure the vehicles used to accommodate the community aren’t causing the same amount of pollution. That’s where Hybrid and Electric Vehicles come into play, we can make the switch from diesel buses to reduce emissions drastically. The idea is conducted within plenty of cities in the U.S and outside across the World. The plan here is to have it adopted and become a norm since electricity is cheaper and safer than conventional fuels.


References :






Bio-composites for a sustainable future. (36)



This video is designed to educate you about bio-composites.  First I’ll cover current waste issues that the United States is facing. Then, i’ll talk about why bio-composites matter, how they are made, and possible uses of them.  After watching this, I hope you start thinking about the further uses that they can have, and how you can make an impact by using or making them.


“Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 21 Nov. 2017, http://www.epa.gov/smm/advancing-sustainable-materials-management-facts-and-figures.

Hoch, M. Organotin Compounds in the Environment — an Overview . 16 Vol. ,
2001. Web.

Judith L. Fridovich-Keil. Bioplastic . Encyclopædia Britannica Inc, 2016. Print.

Staff, Creative Mechanisms. “Everything You Need to Know About Bioplastics.
Creative Mechanisms. 2016. Web. Apr 1, 2018

< https://www.creativemechanisms.com/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-a
bout-bioplastics >.




Blanket the Homeless (40)

This video outlines a solution for homeless people during a disaster situation in Chicago. The implementation of a Portable Safety Blanket System will be vital in saving the lives and caring for the homeless people who brave the elements during torrential rain and blizzards. I believe the city of Chicago has an obligation to help those who are less fortunate and potentially save the lives of countless people across the city who lose their lives due to bearing the elements. The Portable Safety Blanket System (PSBS) is a blanket with Velcro straps that can cocoon a person and keep their vital organs safe and warm when their body may be under danger from the weather conditions.



Group 38 Urban Homesteading

In my home in Denver, CO I have chickens in my backyard as a part of my family’s effort to become more sustainable and eat more locally. In my video I will show everyone my urban homestead with a brief description of what goes into urban homesteading. I will show how my family and I: eat local, reduce food waste, compost food scraps and chicken waste, reuse rain water, and much more!

Urban Food Gardens (45)

As the world’s population continues to steadily increase, we need to find sustainable ways and solutions to source foods for such a population. This video will briefly introduce both the problems regarding food insecurity and some possible solutions, some of which have been put into practice.




Group 34. Water Scarcity


In a world in which facts and science are ignored, and making money seems to trump all else, our video will focus on one of the most if not the most devastating consequences of climate change; water scarcity. Our video will focus on the effects water scarcity has on land, large and small populations of different cities, and towns, as well as the general instability water scarcity will have on many governments and regions around the world.






Group #10: Breaking News: Landfills are filling up

Blog 2

Gabrielle Sanders

53f02e9cd6ba9.preview-620.jpg(Duncan, 2014)

Landfills in Illinois are filling up. Actually, one landfill in Pontiac has an estimated 19 years until it is completely full (Brackett, 2017). In this news cast, the problem of fast-food waste and what to do with it will be discussed as well as potential solutions.



Brackett, E. (2017). Where Does Chicago’s Garbage Go?. Chicago Tonight | WTTW.  https://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2017/06/26/where-does-chicago-s-garbage-go

Duncan, D. (August 17, 2014). Landfills in Illinois Have 21 Year Life Expectancy. http://thesouthern.com/news/local/landfills-in-illinois-have-a–year-life-expectancy/article_38b078f6-061e-5f5f-9ac0-a1fd9dd01a4a.html