11. 7th and 10th Ward Streets and Sanitation Building

7th & 10th Ward Streets and Sanitation Building, 

9160 S. Mackinaw Avenue

LEED Gold Certified

When it was completed, this building was a highly advanced part of the City of Chicago’s commitment to environmental responsibility.   Originally equipped with four vertical-axis wind turbines, the facility was, in effect, the City of Chicago’s first wind farm.  

It also is equipped with two Solar Thermal Collectors on the garage roof.  These devices enable the sun to heat the water flowing into the building, saving 8.5 million BTUs yearly.  

Temperature balance is aided by a reflective roof, energy-efficient windows, and a prefabricated exterior wall system that provides superior insulation, while the interior features eco-friendly furniture.

A detention pond is used to catch storm run-off and remove pollutants prior to entering the city’s filtration system.   

An automation system with motion sensors turns lights on and off as people enter and leave offices, etc., with zone-controlled heating, cooling, and ventilation also maximizing the facility’s environmental efficiency.  

All equipment is monitored by energy software.

(Photos by Kevin P. Murphy)

Environmental Reality vs Good Intentions with Inadequate Research 

The vertical-axis wind turbines — a key component of the building’s high LEED rating — were manufactured by one of the many startup companies that erupted on the early environmental-device scene due to the wishful thinking that characterized so much of the early environmental movement.  

When one of the four turbines was damaged by a winter storm, and needed replacement, such replacement was not possible, due to the fading away of that company.   As a result, all of the remaining three turbines were deactivated, and Chicago’s first wind farm became its last — and lost — at least to this date (June 14, 2017).  

© Kevin Murphy & Joann Podkul Murphy 2016