Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan

PEP was part of the Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture team that developed a comprehensive sustainability plan to reduce the carbon emissions of downtown Chicago while creating a healthier, more livable city. The continued viability of cities and urban living is a core principle in the long-term idea that population growth can continue without its negative impact to the environment becoming detrimental to the planet in the form of global warming.

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The Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan is a beginning process for maintaining the economic and cultural vitality of the urban core of a city, from an energy and carbon perspective. Taking a holistic approach, the Plan addresses eight strategies to augment the environmental, economic and qualitative aspects of city life: buildings, urban matrix, mobility, smart infrastructure, water, waste, community engagement and energy.

The project inspired the development of an urban parametric modeling tool that will help visualize building energy consumption and emissions at a citywide scale. Developed with the intention of monitoring and communicating all aspects of city buildings that relate to their carbon impact, current and future, the model serves a number of purposes. It is a method of analysis to inform energy oriented planning decisions including cost data, an advertising platform for companies making efficiency upgrades to their buildings, an educational tool, and a forum to raise awareness about the carbon impact of the built environment and the effectiveness and cost of strategies in place to improve these conditions.


Articles of Interest
Crain’s Chicago Business
Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce & Industry Business Advocate
Corporate Sustainability Report
PEP Corporate Responsibility Report 2011
Fun Stuff
EnCompass Web-Based Energy Tool
Nantucket Principles
White papers
Development and Implementation of a Parametric Energy Tool for Building Owners
Mechanical and Electrical Systems for the Tallest Building/Man-Made Structure in the World: A Burj Dubai Case Study
Toward Zero Energy: A Case Study of the Pearl River Tower

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Urban Ecology

PositivEnergy Practice works with municipal governments, urban planners, university and medical campus administrators and others to create sustainable master plans and decarbonization strategies. These plans help clients achieve their goals in reducing carbon emissions, save energy and water, reduce waste, address transit, transition to intelligent infrastructure and create healthier, more livable environments.

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Relevant projects:

The Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan, a comprehensive vision for meeting the goals of the Chicago Climate Action Plan and the 2030 Challenge in the downtown Loop. The DeCarbonization Plan addresses the Loop’s complete ecosystem, including existing buildings, urban matrix, energy, waste management, transit, community engagement and other key topics.

The Energy City Master Plan includes sustainable urban design for a large-scale mixed-use district including office, hotel, parks and civic spaces.

The Beijing Residential Master Plan is a multi-block residential development featuring high-end and affordable residences along with a sports complex, retail and a hotel.

Park Gate features six buildings that surround and define a central “urban room,” creating a restful community space to be enjoyed by all.

AS+GG’s award-winning Matrix Gateway Complex features extensive landscaping and water features in a project that is a self-contained city all by itself.

Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan

Photo: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

  • Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan
    Chicago, Illinois USA
  • Energy City Master Plan
    Confidential location
  • Beijing Residential Master Plan
    Beijing, China
  • Park Gate
    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Matrix Gateway Complex
    Dubai, United Arab Emirates


New BuildingsDrawing on the extensive body of work of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and the PositivEnergy Practice principals’ experience, we research and develop innovative, high-performance solutions to drive down energy use, water consumption and carbon emissions to levels far lower than those of conventional new-building design.

Relevant projects:

Masdar Headquarters features eleven bell-shaped cones that provide natural ventilation, support the building’s roof structure, introduce daylight into the interiors and create a series of themed courtyards at the building’s base.

Burj Khalifa, designed by Adrian Smith with engineering leadership by Roger Frechette while at SOM, draws one-third of all of the water used in the building from its condensate systems, producing enough water to fill 22 Olympic-sized swimming pools annually from the air.

The Head Office of the Federation of Korean Industries features a high-performance exterior wall that incorporates photovoltaic panels and an innovative shading strategy.

Vancouver Residential Complex was designed to achieve a 90% reduction in energy and an 80% reduction in GHG emissions relative to typical homes in its neighborhood.

Clean Technology Tower, an AS+GG prototype building that incorporates photovoltaics and building-integrated wind turbines into the design.

Masdar Headquarters

Photo: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

  • Masdar Headquarters
    Masdar City, United Arab Emirates
  • Burj Khalifa
    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Federation of Korean Industries
    Seoul, South Korea
  • Vancouver Residential Complex
    Vancouver, Canada
  • Clean Technology Tower
    Chicago, Illinois


Existing BuildingsThe great majority of all construction work completed over the next few decades will be renovations of existing buildings. We help the owners of such structures find environmentally responsible solutions to the problems posed by inefficient exterior wall, mechanical, lighting and vertical transportation systems. As the original building systems reach the end of their useful lives, we believe it’s important to replace them with healthier, more intelligent, higher-performing systems.

Relevant projects:

The Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) Greening and Modernization, which will reduce base building electricity use in the tower by 80%(equivalent to 52 million kilowatt hours per year) and water usage by 24 million gallons annually. The project also includes a new green hotel to be built on the Willis Tower plaza.

The National Museum of Health and Medicine Chicago, an ongoing design project in conjunction with the Buonacorsi Foundation, features a highly innovative and sustainable retrofit of an existing building in the Loop.

A confidential performing arts project, which involves the expansion of an existing facility, will be high-performance in terms of both sustainability and the user experience.

Willis Tower

Photo: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

  • Willis Tower Hotel
    Chicago, Illinois
  • The National Museum of Health
    and Medicine Chicago

    Chicago, Illinois
  • Confidential Performing Arts Project


Clean EnergyAs we move toward a more sustainable future, the pragmatic incorporation of renewable energy technologies will become a key element of the green agenda. We work with real-estate developers, building owners and large-scale energy providers to integrate renewable energy streams and strategies (including those that harvest wind, solar and geothermal power) into new projects and the existing utility grids.

Relevant projects:

Masdar Headquarters will be powered by the largest solar panel array in the world on its seven-acre roof canopy, a custom energy farm extending over three football fields.

Clean Technology Tower, an AS+GG prototype building that incorporates photovoltaics and building-integrated wind turbines into the design.

Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) Hotel, to be built on the Willis Tower plaza, features building-integrated wind turbines.

The Head Office of the Federation of Korean Industries features a high-performance exterior wall that incorporates photovoltaic panels and an innovative shading strategy.

The Solar EV Dock, a canopy designed by AS+GG for Carbon Day Automotive, is a prototype intended to harvest solar energy and power electric/hybrid vehicles.