Many people complain that not enough is being done in western urban areas in regards to the imminent threats posed by climate change. While these complaints are oftentimes valid, it’s important to remember that many people and organizations are providing examples of excellence which not only are helping the local environment, but could be copied in other locales. One of these examples resides right here in Chicago, in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. The Plant, as it’s called, was a former meatpacking plant turned into eco-friendly super-plant which caters to several different businesses. Using science and innovation, the plant re-uses waste and energy from one sector of the plant to assist another, and vise versa. The result has been several successful businesses, an entirely ecologically sustainable factory, and even fresh produce for the local community.
The fact that this is possible may be scientifically possible, but it required an outstanding amount of creative thinking and innovation to become possible in the real world. Chicago’s west side has several abandoned factories from the end of the industrial era and the flight of working class factory jobs, such as the steel mills. Outside of the rust belt, the entire world has dirty (aesthetically and environmentally) buildings which could take a page or two from The Plant. Being able to pull this off is not simply some “hippy” ideology that will fail eventually. One of the main complaints of building in environmentally sustainable ways is the high amount of capitol required. However, The Plant is not only clean, it has several businesses who are interconnected with each other, and all succeed in the process. The Plant has proven that environmental sustainability can equate to higher profits, while at the same time serving the local community.