Paving the Way in Sustainable StreetsA one-and-one-half-mile stretch of Cermak Road, on Chicago’s West Side, will soon become one of the greenest streets in the country, and possibly the world. The historic industrial artery is shedding its smokestacks and corrugated steel warehouses for a $16 million makeover by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) that will make the corridor a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum showcase.
Improvements range from solar-paneled bus stops to native plants and pavement that absorbs rainwater. Armed with tax increment financing funds and grant money, the CDOT set to work incorporating what may be the most sustainable elements ever to go into a single stretch of road. In addition, all materials were found within a 500-mile radius of the project. Twenty-three percent of the materials used are from recycled sources, and more than 60 percent of the redevelopment construction waste will itself be recycled. Other cities are studying the project as a blueprint for change.