Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan | Notes of Interest

The Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan is a comprehensive vision for helping the City of Chicago reach the goals of the Chicago Climate Action Plan and the 2030 Challenge in the downtown Loop. The project team developed a database (energy use, size, age, use, and estimated carbon footprint) of more than 550 buildings. The team used that database, tied to a 3-D model, to develop the DeCarbonization Plan, which interweaves energy engineering, architecture, and urban design.

In the DeCarbonization Plan's synergistic approach, eight key strategies work together with a parametric model. The first strategy, "Buildings," investigates how existing structures can be upgraded to improve efficiency, increase the value of aging building stock and tap into the potential to transfer excess energy back to the grid, all while offsetting the need for new construction. Second is "Urban Matrix," which envisions increasing the residential density of the Loop by enhancing amenities, adding schools and services and converting aging office buildings to residential.

Others strategies include "Smart Infrastructure," a look at how energy can be generated, stored, distributed and shared; "Mobility," assessing transit and connectivity; "Water," examining how this critical resource is used and conserved; "Waste," examining systems for reducing, recycling and disposing of waste; "Community Engagement," involving citizens in the green agenda; and "Energy," an examination of existing and new energy sources.

Additional Credits

Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan

Jury Comments

Kudos to Chicago for being one of the leading U.S. cities working on climate action.

An innovative way of looking at long existing urban fabrics that uses common sense approaches to creatively solve common problems.

This ambitious proposal shows how a dense urban area can effectively continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the carbon footprint of its business district.

2011 Institute Honor Awards for Regional & Urban Design Jury

  • Daniel Williams, FAIA, (Chair)
  • Daniel Williams Architect
  • Seattle
  • C.R. George Dove, FAIA
  • WDG Architecture, PLLC
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Vivien Li
  • Boston Harbor Association, Public Director
  • Boston
  • Claire Weisz, AIA
  • Weisz + Yoes Architecture
  • New York City
  • Bernard Zyscovich, FAIA
  • Zyscovich, Inc.
  • Miami

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