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The Green Issue

By Alicia Dorr in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 24, 2007 7:45PM

greenhome.jpgThere isn't total agreement on just how "green" Chicago is (though if anyone knows, it would be Blair Kamin). The city hopes to make some progress in Al Gore-ifying the city with its two new programs.

The Chicago Green Homes initiative focuses on small tips and tricks for developers to save energy and make new buildings more sustainable. Applicants can download forms from the city's web site and enroll their developments to become Green Homes. These buildings will have to meet a series of requirements based on energy-saving upgrades such as erosion and sediment control, energy-efficient mechanical and water heating systems, use of reusable and recycled building materials and more. When the projects are complete, those in the program will receive special accommodations from the city, including a faster permitting process. Although implementing each technique alone wouldn't qualify a new building for LEED-standard certification (and the possible tax breaks and other incentives that could go with it), when put together the strategies might make a difference.

The other new program is the Green Remodeling Series, along the same lines but for homeowners seeking to renovate their house to be more Earth-friendly, with tips range from the best contractors to hire to help you, to weatherization techniques. The six guides are available to anyone looking for fairly concrete guidelines on what steps to take to make their housing more eco-conscious.

The new initiatives come just in time for the city name-drop them to the 18,000 or so people expected to attend this year's GreenBuild at the McCormick Place November 7-9. Hopefully the city advertises these new programs well so that average homeowners, contractors and smaller developers outside of the greenerati will use them.

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