Sustainable Urban Development in Chicago


Buildings are the #1 source of greenhouse emissions in the city of Chicago. Greenhouse emissions and the city’s urban heat island initiative are damaging our temperature, air quality, and environment. Urban development and sustainability need to go hand and hand during future projects in Chicago in order to improve our overall environment and lower the greenhouse emissions level.

Chicago’s public building commission environmental sustainability and Retrofit Chicago’s commercial building initiative are two programs focused on improving sustainability within the city of Chicago through urban planning. Some strategies of theirs include: Utilization of durable and recycled materials in construction, reflective rooftops, garden rooftop (City Hall), occupancy light sensors/controls, high efficiency heating and cooling systems, low consumption water usage, and Diversion of construction waste from landfills.

With all these different types of strategies focusing on improving sustainability, Chicago plans to reduce energy use by at least 20% within five years of joining the program (joined in June 2012), Track and share the energy efficiency development with the Energy Star and act as an ambassador to other building interested in saving energy and lowering greenhouse emissions. Through these tremendous efforts, Chicago has been able to reduce operating costs, increase asset value, create local jobs and avoid greenhouse gas emissions within Chicago’s leading buildings

In the 19th century, Chicago built the world’s first modern skyscraper. In the 20th century, we created a world-renowned skyline. And today, Chicago aspires to make that skyline the most efficient on the planet. – Mayor Rahm Emanuel



“Public Building Commission of Chicago | Public Building Commission Environmental Sustainability.” Public Building Commission of Chicago | Public Building Commission Environmental Sustainability. Public Building Commission of Chicago, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2016. <;.

“ABOUT RETROFIT CHICAGO’S COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS INITIATIVE:.” Retrofit Chicago. Retrofit Chicago, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2016. <;.



2 thoughts on “Sustainable Urban Development in Chicago

  1. I like that Chicago is taking the initiative to build a greener skyline because that’s whats really iconic to Chicago it is its skyline and with the introduction of green skyscrapers many other cities would follow and would simply start a chain reaction and make the world a more greener place with simple green skyscrapers. Even though its a long process over time its a could idea to pursue.


  2. I think a big step towards sustainability is to create greener buildings. Illinois is actually one of the top ten states that releases the most green house emissions. One of the main contributors to carbon emissions is infrastructure and to live in a city that is growing rapidly, it is nice to know that they are taking the initiative to fall back from that and start adopting better methods like the ones you provided above.


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