Good to Be Green 340 on the Park Reaps Rewards of Eco- Friendly Design

Article excerpt

Byline: Gwen Jader Daily Herald Correspondent

While being green might not have been easy for Kermit the Frog, the developer of Chicago's 340 on the Park has discovered that being environmentally friendly also has been good for business.

340 on the Park, on track to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED(R)) silver certification standard, is nearly sold, while sales for much of the residential real estate market have stalled. It will be the first residential tower in the Midwest to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's silver certification standard.

The 62-story 340 on the Park, at 340 E. Randolph, overlooks Grant and Millennium parks on the south and The Park at Lake Shore East on the north. The first owners already are living in the tallest all-residential tower in Chicago, which will be complete by the end of the year.

Seeking to create an extraordinary building was key to the design team's early commitment to the environmental certification, said Kerry Dickson, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Related Midwest.

"We wanted to differentiate our building and our company as forward-thinking," he said.

While most buyers made their purchasing decision based on location, cost and the quality of the finishes and amenities, several purchased because of future cost savings.

"We have several purchasers who are into sustainability and know that living here will save them money in the future because of reduced energy costs," Dickson said.

LEED certification involves a point system with required prerequisites. It affects many aspects of building design, construction and operation, such as energy efficiency, water use, interior air quality, site selection and materials.

Designing and building the first LEED-certified residential tower in the Midwest had its challenges, since it required pioneering new ways of thinking and working for the area, according to Don Biernacki, senior vice president for construction at Related Midwest.

For example, the firm initially set a goal of 50 percent for the percentage of the building's construction waste that could be diverted from the waste stream toward recycling. But over time, the firm's scavenger service developed a market for recycling construction waste, so 340 on the Park was able to divert 82 percent of its construction waste - more than 2,800 tons - from landfills to be used in projects such as road beds.

Green construction practices at 340 on the Park included using locally produced and recycled building materials, an indoor air quality management plan to keep mechanical systems clean during construction so dust is not trapped in air ducts, and the implementation of an erosion and sediment control program to minimize impact on storm water systems.

The building's exterior curtain-wall system of low-E tinted glass and aluminum panels in an aluminum frame provides a continuous exterior surface that minimizes the amount of energy traveling in and out of the building, reducing energy consumption compared to more traditional structures. …