How to color a rehab green

Clybourn Green How do you transform an old Chicago apartment building into an eco-friendly development?

We posed this question to engineering consultant George Sullivan, principal and CEO of Eco Smart Building. Compared to new-construction developments – where builders start from scratch and haul in new materials – it’s easier to make an existing building eco-friendly.

Sullivan, who consults on projects across the country, is currently working on Clybourn Green, an 18-unit rehab at 2401 – 2409 N Clybourn Ave that goes on the market next week.

Since the structure is already built and in solid shape, builders expend less energy on new materials and transportation, Sullivan says. “The carbon footprint goes down to nothing; we don’t have to re-fabricate materials.”

According to Sullivan, features of a successful green rehab include:

  • New plumbing and electrical wiring
  • A stronger building shell that allows for fewer air leaks, reducing heating and cooling costs
  • 1.1-gallon shower heads that use 70 percent less water (but feel like a regular shower, according to Sullivan)
  • Energy-efficient light bulbs that use 8 percent of the energy of standard fluorescent lights but generate the same amount of light
  • ENERGY STAR appliances
  • Eco-friendly oak/maple hardwood floors certified by the Forest Stewardship Council
  • Recycled glass or granite countertops
  • Testing for energy leakage by an outside party before the building is complete

He expects Clybourn Green to use 80 percent less energy than a conventional building.

All of this, however, comes at a cost. Sullivan estimates that Clybourn Green will cost developers about 25 to 30 cents more per square foot compared to a standard gut rehab.

But with tax reductions at $1.80 per square foot for eco-friendly projects, developers can actually earn $1.55 per square foot more compared to standard gut rehab, according to his calculations.

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