With the opening of the Roosevelt Square Community Center last October, sustainable architecture in the city of Chicago took a giant step forward on the path to creating greener futures for local area residents. We are excited to share an update on our Center and the eco-friendly features, all of which complement our Village model of care, a sustainable model of foster care that stabilizes families, strengthens communities, and builds lasting change for future generations.
A First-of-Its-Kind for Chicago
With the design team of our internationally renowned architect Juan Moreno of JGMA, as well as the planning and oversight of our project manager Lendlease, and support from Related Midwest, the Roosevelt Square Community Center became Chicago’s very first public building constructed entirely from Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT), which is a sub-category of engineered wood. Designing and planning, securing approval, and building a facility’s mainframe entirely from wood is historically significant for the city. This dates back to codes and permit structures set in place following the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, which were established as a measure of protection and safety of its citizens.
Nearly 150 years later, with the improvements made to building materials, development oversight, and construction management, today major cities across the world are utilizing more sustainable construction materials. By allowing SOS Illinois to construct the Center from CLT, as well as utilize other sustainable building materials, such as Glued Laminated Timber (glulam) for the columns and beams, the city is taking steps to embrace new “green” technology that ultimately reconfirms a commitment to building healthier communities across the city.
Sustainable Building Materials at the Center
Glued Laminated Timber, or glulam (glue-lam), is a highly innovative construction material made from structurally engineered wood that is constituted by layers of dimensional lumber bonded together. Pound for pound, glulam is stronger than steel and has greater strength. The installation of the base structure for the Center began with the initial stages of the drilling and applying of epoxy on the anchor bolts. Once the glulam columns and beams arrived onsite, the base structure of the building was raised within a 24-hour period.
Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) has been gradually gaining attention as it stands out for its strength, appearance, versatility, and sustainability. The material consists of planks of sawn, glued, and layered wood, where each layer is oriented perpendicular to the previous. The installation of the CLT roof was a complex process that included prefabricated pieces of wood being shipped to the site, a massive crane lifting the panels into place, crew members both on the roof and below on lifts, all working together to guide each tile to its exact place – like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. The tiles were then ratcheted into place to ensure a tight seam, and finally screwed down. This was captured in ABC 7 Chicago’s Built to Last, which featured the Center during its season 7, episode 8.
Sustainable Use and Renewable Energy Generation Onsite
JGMA designed the Center with different passive and active techniques to reduce the energy needs of buildings and increase its ability to capture or generate energy. Through a generous donation of solar panels from the McKay Family Foundation, SOS Illinois is harnessing energy from daylight through the Photovoltaic Solar Panels secured to the roof of the Center. These panels absorb sunlight as a source of energy to generate direct current electricity.
In March, SOS Illinois was part of a tour with Verde Solutions and the Illinois Deputy Governor Chris Mitchell at our Roosevelt Square Community Center discussing solar energy as part of raising awareness for the Path to 100 Act (SB 1781, HB 2966), which will ensure a continued stable renewable energy market in Illinois.
Since the Center opened in October 2020, the solar panels have tracked the amount of energy produced. After 9 months, reports show that every three months approximately 7.32 MWh’s of electricity are produced. During this time span, the megawatt hour output is then estimated in CO2 reductions and trees planted. We calculate approximately 44,862.65 lb. of CO2 were saved with the equivalency of 339 trees planted. Visit our sustainable features page of our website to see the real-time panel output.
Additionally, energy efficiency over the entire life cycle of a building is the most important goal of sustainable architecture. SOS Illinois, through the help of Snaidero, Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove, was able to secure ENERGY STAR certified appliances, which are certified by the U.S. Department of Energy. Another important feature of the Center is the energy-efficient lighting offered to us through our partnership with Maestro Care Foundation and The Dulanski Group.
SOS Illinois is grateful to all those who committed monetary gifts, as well as donations of time and talent to the Roosevelt Square Community Center to ensure we are able to offer state-of-the-art programming and facilities to the children, families, and the surrounding communities we serve.
By creating a sustainable and energy-efficient facility, the “green” that is saved is twofold: 1) we ensure the Center uses less electricity, which is better for the environment; and 2) we remind our partners we are fiscally responsible because every dollar saved is then put toward programs and services to benefit the children and families in our care.
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Consider making a contribution to ensuring the programs and services at SOS Illinois continue to strengthen families and transform lives for years to come as well. Click here to donate today. Remember, change is in our hands.