2125 W. North Map
(Now of Farr Associates)
The Center for Neighborhood Technology's (CNT) 15,000 sf renovation of their Wicker Park home in a former weaving factory was the second LEED Platinum certified building in Chicago (CCGT was the first). Having received its certification in 2005 and being completed more than a year prior to that, it is long overdue for coverage on GreenBean. CNT's mission is very much to have others learn from their space - for more information please visit their website or stop by the building for a tour.
CNT is an organization dedicated to promoting the development of more livable and sustainable urban communities, so it's only natural that they would go all-out on their own building project. If you're not familiar with them, a well-known current projects is the I-Go car sharing service. CNT first moved into their 1920's building in 1987, and performed a fairly green renovation at that time. By 2000, however, they needed to use more of the building than originally renovated, and began the current project. Choosing to stay in their current building demonstrates the value CNT places in the energy and materials invested in Chicago's existing building stock, a major part of their mission.
As a platinum project, all of the green building basics are covered, so we'll touch on the unusual pieces. The building includes showers for bike commuters, something many projects this small don't want to both with. Here, however, the showers see much more use than in many green buildings - a significant percentage of employees do indeed bike to work. The small parking lot (18 spaces for 60 employees and visitors) includes permeable paving, and remaining site area is used for a rain garden - popular on residential projects, but unusual in more dense commercial areas.
Energy savings are achieved with a reasonably insulated enveloped and a more sophisticated mechanical system than typical for a small commercial building, including an ice storage system (which shifts peak electrical cooling loads to night). An environmentally-aware staff allows a natural ventilation strategy based on emails alerting employees to open windows to actually be effective. To top it off, there is a small solar electric array on the roof.
The building hits all of the usual recycled, regional, and healthy materials, but also has an exceptionally high amount (13% of material cost) of rapidly renewable materials such as cork and wheatboard (which is no longer manufactured in the U.S.). The project's real success story was the budget - $82/sf - which is perhaps average for a non-profit renovation and low for many commercial renovations. This demonstrates that green can be done on a dime if carefully integrated in a project from the beginning.