Chicago not only green-building pioneer in the Midwest

For all his flaws, Mayor Daley has done at least one thing right during his long tenure as mayor of Chicago: He’s encouraged developers, whether they’re building in the heart of downtown Chicago or on the far South Side, to build green and environmentally friendly buildings. We have an awful lot of garden rooftops in Chicago. You have to give the mayor at least partial credit for this.

But Chicago is far from the only city in the Midwest to boast a green-building boom. Over in Des Moines, Iowa, for instance, developers are building green, energy efficient buildings at a rapid clip, too. As in Chicago, Des Moines mayor Franklin Cownie deserves part of the credit.

I recently spoke with Jake Christensen, owner of Des Moines-based Christensen Development. His company was behind Des Moines’ e300 Grand Avenue. The building features 1,200 square feet of commercial space on its ground floor and 79 residential apartments. Since opening in 2009, the building has been operating 68 percent more efficiently than traditionally constructed building.

Christensen is happy to see Des Moines commit to green building. He thinks it’s important, and cringes whenever he sees developers tear up cornfields in the middle of nowhere to erect new “green” buildings. The e300 Grand building is located in the heart of Des Moines and near public transportation. Much of green building, Christensen says, is rooted in location; buildings located in urban areas are naturally greener than buildings located in far-off fields in which owners have to trek long distances to get to their workplaces every day.

“I think people are starting to realize that living green can be a much better way to live,” Christensen said. “People realize just how much time they save when they don’t have to fight rush-hour traffic every day.”

Still, while green building may be a hot topic among developers in places like Chicago and Des Moines, the average consumer isn’t totally sold on the concept. Christensen said his company surveyed the people who bought into e300 Grand Avenue: The majority of them listed price, location and amenities as the main reasons they purchased in the building. Green factors came in no higher than fourth on most surveys.

This won’t prevent Christensen from continuing to develop environmentally friendly and energy efficient buildings, he said. And you can bet it won’t stop developers in Chicago from doing the same.

12,000 square feet of commercial space on ground level and 79 residential
apartments abov

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