A new idea has taken root in Chicago—bully for that city! According to Business Week, Chicago’s Green Exchange will be the first shopping center in the U.S. for environmentally responsible and socially conscious businesses.” What a great idea!
Get this: not only will the first “green mall” in America be located in Chicago, grouping eco-friendly businesses for the first time, but the very building itself—all 250,000 square feet of it—will also be developed in accordance with LEED standards.
LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) standards were developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED System “provides benchmarks for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. . . in five key areas”, states the article, “sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality”.
Apparently, a Chicago real estate developer, Baum Development, is capitalizing on refurbishing a historic building in a great location—350,000 cars pass by the site each day. Taking care to retain the building’s historic character, while retrofitting it with a “green” roof, energy efficient systems, clean air quality, a courtyard, meeting/event community space, on-site parking with priority parking given to hybrid vehicles, will make Chicago’s Green Exchange the first of its kind.
The article cites the growing market for green building materials in this country; one that is predicted to grow from $7.2 billion in 2005 to between an estimated $19 to $38 billion by 2010, according to the National Association of Home Builders and McGraw-Hill Construction. It is now possible for many owners to build or renovate their homes or businesses in an environmentally friendly way. As materials become more readily available, many consumers will no doubt, opt to do just that.
Just as importantly, “Chicago’s Green Exchange” will contain about 100 tenants; not all of them will be retail establishments, but environmentally and socially conscious businesses of every stripe. The developer is planning on a great mix: an organic restaurant and café, an environmentally-friendly building supply company, print shop, clothing retailer and furniture store. Architect and design studios whose principals focus on sustainability, as well as a car-sharing service and a bike shop are also planned tenants, so you get the picture.
What’s great about this model is that it provides a critical mass of businesses that are environmentally and socially conscious for a critical mass of consumers with the same philosophy and vision. If successful, the Chicago Green Exchange will offer a business model for other cities across the country.
With the number of consumers for eco-friendly products and services dramatically on the rise, and many new businesses taking root to supply them, this is a new concept with real possibilities.
• Are you interested in, or becoming more aware of green products and services?
• Do you support environmentally conscious businesses or consume organic foods?
• What do you think of this kind of business development plan?
• Would you shop in a “green mall”?