A streetscape that includes natural landscaping, bicycle lanes, wind-powered lighting, stormwater diversion for irrigation, drought-resistant native plants and innovative “smog-eating” concrete has earned Cermak road in Chicago the title of “Greenest Street in America,” according to the Chicago Department of Transport (CDOT).
Opened in October 2012, the first phase of the two-mile stretch is part of the Blue Island/Cermak Sustainable Streetscape project in Pilsen, which was introduced in 2009 with the aim of reducing overall energy usage by 42 percent.The $14-million initial project’s full range of data and sustainable elements will not be available until the street canopy fills in and cooling technologies are activated in the summer. The project will eventually extend along Cermak and Blue Island all the way to Western in Chicago and is not only green, but is also cheap: The current 14 blocks cost 21 percent less to build than similar projects Chicago City officials considered and should be cheaper to maintain.
The location runs through an industrial zone, which links the state and U.S. highways. And whilst not eligible for LEED certification because it is not a building, the project will record quantifiable results through a set of equally aggressive sustainability goals charting eight performance areas such as stormwater management, material reuse, energy reduction and place making.
The most anticipated data will be collected from the first commercial use of photocatalytic cement for the inside highway lanes. This “smog eating” cement contains nano particles of titanium dioxide and is designed to clean the surface of the road and remove nitrogen oxide (NOx) from the surrounding air through a catalytic reaction driven by UV light. In addition, the CDOT used 30 percent recycled content in the sidewalk concrete and installed roadways that include reclaimed asphalt pavement, slag, ground tire rubber and reclaimed asphalt shingles.
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– By Donna Taylor
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