Chicago's Green Alleys: A large-scale project to reduce impervious surface
Chicago has a Green Alley Handbook
Chicago has more than 13,000 alleys that total more than 1,900 miles of area. Those 3,500 acres of alleys consist of enough impermeable surfaces to equal the paved area at about five mid-sized airports. Because rainwater can no longer soak into the ground, the result is flooding. Because the cost of retrofitting conventional storm drainage systems is prohibitive, the City of Chicago has looked at other solutions.
In the October 2008 issue of Stormwater Magazine, writer Margaret Buranen described Chicago’s Green Alley Program and how it is consistent with Mayor Richard Daley’s desire to make Chicago the greenest city. “One factor in the success of the Green Alleys Program is the way in which it was explained so clearly to the public,” writes Buranen. “The major component of that public education is a publication titled The Chicago Green Alley Handbook.”
According to Margaret Buranen, the Green Alley Program was designed to be more than just a solution to urban flooding. Its “dark-sky” street lamps reduce light pollution and direct light downward where it is needed instead of up into windows to keep residents from sleeping. The street lamps also reduce energy cost.
TO LEARN MORE: To download a copy of the Green Alley Handbook, click here. Beyond communicating the City’s program, the handbook outlines sustainable techniques that adjacent property owners can implement on their own commercial, industrial, and residential properties. Crafted with a clear and transferable message, it serves as a model to create greener, environmentally sustainable urban places.