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The Greenest Street in America is in Chicago

For more than 175 years, ‘City in a Garden’ has been Chicago’s motto, a suggestive phrase denoting the city’s commitment to creating a cleaner, greener, and sustainable environment. But every garden needs it alleys and the garden is now more of an asphalt jungle.

In an effort to help communities reduce pollution and enhance the urban ecosystem, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) unveiled the “greenest street in America,” the first phase of a two-mile stretch of Blue Island Avenue and Cermak Road in the Pilsen neighborhood.

One swallow does not make summer yet it’s a hell of a good start. Whenever a new project is kicked off, there’s the promise of a better future. The Cermak/Blue Island Sustainable Streetscape signifies more than the greening of one single street. It’s the first step to an improved infrastructure, making use of eco-friendly technology and cutting-edge sustainable design to deliver better quality of life to residents of the Pilsen Community and the entire city eventually.

greenest streets in america
Image via Co.exist
“We are committed to improving how we address water, air quality, sustainable materials and energy consumption in our city’s infrastructure while creating places people enjoy living and working,” said Karen Weigert, Chicago Chief Sustainability Officer. “Projects like these show that the transportation right-of-way is an essential component for improving environmental conditions, as well as mobility and accessibility in Chicago.”

Among a series of innovative features, the $14 million streetscape project employed a new roadway material named photocatalytic cement, also known as “smog-eating” cement, a compound which cleans the surface of the roadway and removes nitrogen oxide (NOx) gases from the surrounding air through a catalytic reaction driven by UV light.

The project also includes the installation of Chicago’s first permanent wind/solar powered pedestrian lights and the first LED pedestrian light poles on a streetscape in the Windy City, as well as efficient stormwater management systems. High albedo pavement surfaces will contribute to reducing the urban heat island effect and a 131% increase in landscape and tree canopy cover will help improve air quality in the area.

Learn more about smog-eating cement below:

Amalia Otet
Amalia Otet is an online content developer and creative writer for RENTCafé. She loves all things real estate and strives to live beautifully, one green step at a time.

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