Chicago’s Big Green Development Takes Global Award

Billed as “a game-changing urban ideal for not just Chicago’s Southeast lakefront, but for the entire region,” the plan for Chicago’s Lakeside Development will turn the site that was once America’s largest steel mill into the most connected and transit-oriented location in North America, including a 91-acre lakeside park, mixed use development and community co-generation. The Chicago Lakeside Development is a big green vision for what is currently a giant brownfield site, and it recently won the has won the first-ever Sustainia Community Award.

Sustainia is an alliance focused on creating a global platform for communicating, envisioning and building a sustainable future, and in keeping with that focus, the winner of the award was chosen via the organization’s large social media network. Sustainia’s inaugural Community Award was presented to Chicago Lakeside Development — a joint venture betweenMcCaffery Interests and U.S. Steel Corporation — by none other than Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger during a ceremony at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen.  According to the global alliance, the inaugural Sustainia Community Award “honors the best sustainable solution.”

Chicago Lakeside Development

Chicago Lakeside Development

The Master Plan for the Chicago Lakeside Development was created by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in conjunction with Sasaki Associates and Antunovich Associates. It calls for 13,575 new homes, 17,500,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, a new high school, a 1500-slip marina, and 125 acres of new park lands. The project is a certified LEED-Neighborhood Development and will incorporate innovative green features such as a stormwater management system that will filter runoff to recharge Lake Michigan.

One of the most interesting elements of the plan is a dedicated neighborhood utility system — the first of its kind — that will power, heat, and cool the development. This feat will be accomplished through a combination of sewage heat, biogas, biomass, and natural gas, as well as rooftop solar, wind turbines and cogeneration from waste heat, while lakewater and groundwater will be put to work in keeping buildings cool. By building green from scratch, as well as by recycling and reusing water and waste, the development seeks to eliminate waste sent to landfills.

Visions for the 76-acre land parcel include the construction of a mixed-used development identified as The Market Common, an 800,000-square-foot project featuring retail, restaurants, entertainment venues and residential units.

Chicago Lakeside Development, night

image via Chicago Lakeside Development

Additionally, a living lab — part of the development’s innovation district — will establish prototypes and promote innovative solutions for energy, water, waste and technology.

A new 91-acre lakefront park dedicated to the Chicago Park District will provide 1.7 miles of additional lakefront access, and 35 acres of open space will be dedicated to an extensive system of neighborhood parks – Ore Wall Park, Central Park and Finger Parks – which will create areas for gardens, jogging, walking, playgrounds, sculptures and general enjoyment.

New retail and commercial spaces are envisioned as creating permanent jobs, and, in combination with increased lakefront access, as pulling mass transit east, even as increased housing density in the area pulls mass transit south.

With approval from the Chicago Plan Commission, the Lakeside project has begun construction on Phase 1 of the development, which will see 800,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, office space and new residences go up over 76 acres. The entire Chicago Lakeside Development will take 25-45 years to completely develop.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.


  • Reply October 16, 2012

    Audrey Fischer

    How can you possibly consider this GREEN with all that light pollution even in the design layout?! Do you really think the ecosystem shuts down at sunset? A GREEN city has a midnight blue, star-studded sky crowned with the Milky Way. Streetlights & STARlight CAN exists together with smart planning from people who really care. Chicago is the #1 WORST light pollution city in the world when measured by satellite. (Satellites measure light that is either off target or, worse yet, deliberately pointed UP into the night sky.) Btw, the American Medical Association unanimously voted that light pollution is harmful to the health and safety of people. …and the National Park Service studies predict by 2025 <10% of people in the US will ever see a starry night sky even once in their LIFEtime. This is so needless… and thoughtless. One hundred years ago, visionaries thought it was important to preserve natural lands for future generations. Our Cook County Forest Preserve was born out of that type of thinking. Don't you think it is every bit as important to take new visionary steps that will benefit generations to come? Treasure and Restore starlight. The #1 light polluted city in the world can become the first major city in the world with starlight. Chicago has the right talent pool to make it happen. In that, I have total faith.

    • Reply October 19, 2012

      Christ Jan Wijtmans

      I semi-agree with you, light pollution really bothers me, however people need to see in the dark especially when they work at night, the light bulb is one of those inventions that speeded up our prosperity because we could work at night and rainy days. This design should have sensors that turn on lights in the sectors where it is required.

      • Reply October 25, 2012

        Audrey Fischer

        Chicago has the WORST light pollution in the WORLD when measured by satellite!
        It is possible to have streetlights (and other lights) AND STARlight too! Lights need to be kept on-target… and within your own property lines. Light trespass must stop. Light pointed up into the night sky must stop too. Light allowed to go up bounces off air particulates and keeps on going & glowing for 50-100 miles or more. The health and environmental consequences of light pollution are clear. It is totally irresponsible not to dramatically reduce light pollution. Sensors and dimmers are an excellent method of reducing light pollution. Choosing the right fixture design & color temperature of the light source is critical to reducing light pollution. No one is suggesting that NO lights be used outdoors…. only smart lighting methods.

Leave a Reply