One-Stop Shopping for the Eco Consumer

Rendering of Green Exchange
Rendering of “Green Exchange,” to be opened in 2008.
Photo courtesy of Baum Development, LLC

A proposed real estate development in Chicago aims to serve as the central location for a range of eco-oriented stores and businesses, from an organic café to a “green” interior designer to a socially conscious investment company. The “Green Exchange,” according to Director of Leasing Phil Baugh, will be more than just a destination for environmentally conscious consumers, but also a community that will foster synergy among sustainability-minded tenants.

The building for the mixed-use complex—a renovated factory—is to be converted in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, with the grand opening scheduled for the summer of 2008, says Baugh. The 250,000-square-foot (23,226-square-meter) structure will include retail and showroom space on the first and second floors and offices on the third and fourth floors. Green Exchange will also feature an open-air courtyard with a “sky garden” in addition to a “green” roof made from live vegetation.

Other features will include escalators that use 30 percent less energy than conventional escalators by slowing down when not in use, and a 60,000-gallon rain cistern to collect water for irrigation. The complex is located near bus and train routes to promote public transit use, will have a bike room and showers to encourage zero-emissions travel, and will prioritize parking for hybrid cars.

Rendering of Green Exchange
Photo courtesy of Baum Development, LLC

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the project, according to Baugh, is that the complex aims to act as a “think tank” or incubator for green businesses. Like-minded entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to learn from one another in a collaborative environment and to draw from the same customer base, Baugh notes. This will help achieve part of Green Exchange’s mission to help environmentally conscious businesses grow exponentially, and, as Baugh says, “to bring green from the niche to the mainstream.”

This story was produced by Eye on Earth, a joint project of the Worldwatch Institute and the blue moon fund. View the complete archive of Eye on Earth stories, or contact Staff Writer Alana Herro at aherro [AT] worldwatch [DOT] org with your questions, comments, and story ideas.