AS+GG's Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan
Wins National AIA Award for Regional and Urban Design

January 2011

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture’s Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan is among the winners of the 2011 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Institute Honors Awards, the architectural profession’s highest recognition. The DeCarbonization Plan, a comprehensive vision for helping Chicago reach its carbon reduction goals in the downtown Loop, won the Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design.
Selected from over 700 total submissions, the 27 Institute Honors Award recipients will be presented their awards at the AIA 2011 National Convention and Design Exposition in New Orleans in May.

The DeCarbonization Plan lays out a methodology for meeting the goals of the Chicago Climate Action Plan, which would mean a 25% reduction in carbon emissions below 1990 levels by 2020, and the 2030 Challenge, which set a goal of 100% reduction in carbon emissions for new and renovated buildings by 2030.
In creating the DeCarbonization Plan, the AS+GG project team developed a database (energy use, size, age, use, and estimated carbon footprint) of more than 550 buildings.  The team used that database, tied to a 3-D model, to develop the DeCarbonization Plan, which interweaves energy engineering, architecture and urban design. In the DeCarbonization Plan's synergistic approach, eight key strategies—addressing buildings, energy, infrastructure, urban matrix, transit, water, waste and community engagement—work together with a parametric model. The project also includes an examination of government and private funding resources for decarbonization initiatives.

The jury for the 2011 Institute Honor Awards for Regional and Urban Design included Daniel Williams, FAIA (chair), Daniel Williams Architect; C.R. George Dove, FAIA, WDG Architecture, PLLC; Vivien Li, Boston Harbor Association; Claire Weisz, AIA, Weisz + Yoes Architecture; and Bernard Zyscovich, FAIA, Zyscovich, Inc.
“We’re deeply gratified to be honored by the AIA for the DeCarbonization Plan,” said Adrian Smith, FAIA. “It reaffirms our belief that it’s not enough for architects to concentrate on new buildings. We have to address the existing building stock, making it much more energy efficient, to make a real dent in the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Gordon Gill, AIA, noted, “We also need to address the urban matrix in cities, finding ways to make urban living more attractive to families, as well as smart infrastructure, energy sharing and other topics that can have a substantial cumulative effect on carbon reduction.” Added AS+GG partner Robert Forest, AIA: “The DeCarbonization Plan looks holistically at development from planning, energy, carbon, finance and construction perspectives.”
In 2010, the DeCarbonization Plan won Architect magazine’s R&D Award and the World Architecture News Urban Design Award.  The plan will be published in Toward Zero Carbon: The Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan, forthcoming from Images Publishing this spring.