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Move to make Chicago greener called a 'grand slam'

by Haley Westbrook and Renita D. Young
April 08, 2008

Haley Westbrook/Medill

Demonstration of an eco-friendly pavement

The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, the developer, owner and operator of U.S. Cellular Field, unveiled a new eco-friendly parking lot described as a "grand slam" for water management because it allows surface water to absorb into the earth.  
“It’s recognized as a best management practice by the Environmental Protection Agency, meets both Low Impact Development and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines and the new 2008 City of Chicago Storm Water Management Ordinance requirement,” Perri Irmer, chief executive officer of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, told a windswept gathering of reporters, White Sox officials, and representatives of the manufacturer and designer of the pavement.

Unilock, the maker of the pavement, demonstrated with a special machine how it lays bricks for the pavement. Chicago firemen sprayed streams of water onto it to demonstrate its permeability and fast absorption of the water.

The $3.5-million project saved $400,000, according to 11th Ward Alderman Jim Balcer. He said the 265,000-square-foot Parking Lot L will not have to be re-paved for 40 years.
According to a release from Unilock, the new lot will save taxpayer money by significantly reducing the amount of water entering Chicago’s stormwater system, improve overall water quality and help reduce urban heat.  By absorbing storm water, the new pavement will help to prevent flooding, said John Spatz, commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Water Management.

In addition to the environmental benefits, in cold weather the new pavement will absorb water before it freezes on the surface, according to Jay Rients of Unilock. 
“We’re proud to have the largest permeable surface in the country,” said Balcer.
The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority recently expressed interest in purchasing Wrigley Field.

According to its Web site, the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority is a government entity created  by the Illinois General Assembly in 1987 to construct and renovate sports stadiums for professional sports teams in Illinois.