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Demonstrating the viability of sustainable concepts and practices in urban environments through research, education, and hands-on projects.

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UHC Lecture and Film Series

UHC Lecture and Film Series

Please see Events for current events.

UHC presents a yearly series of lectures by members and guests that draw on a wide range of fields and interests such as urban agriculture, biology, ecology, architecture, land use and planning, engineering, construction, product design, and manufacturing. Our goal is to educate our members and the public about today’s vital environmental concerns and provide some information and tools on how to address them in ways large and small.

Lectures are free to the public, but registration is requested since seating is limited.

See below for more information about having UHC present a lecture to your organization.

Why our lectures are (mostly) free

At UHC, we truly believe disseminating information freely about the viability of concepts and practices in urban environments is part of our mission, and the more are able to do so, the more our message will spread.

However, it does cost UHC to prepare lectures, reserve speakers, A/V equipment, etc. If you can help at all, we ask that you consider supporting Urban Habitat Chicago so we may continue to bring you great, relevant lectures that no one else can. We also welcome donations when you attend!

Occasionally, we’ll ask for a modest suggested donation. Don’t feel bad about giving a little less if you’re strapped… or more if you can spare it!

NEW!! Film Series

We’re working on expanding our educational outreach to include films.
Our goal is to find timely films that will compliment the challenging lectures we present: documentaries, chestnuts oft overlooked but essential viewing, special screenings, and more.
Stay tuned.

Getting to our lectures

We make a point of holding lectures in places close to public transportation.
So, we highly encourage you to leave your car at home, take the train, take the bus… or even ride your bike!

Please note the locations for each lecture since they sometimes change.

Lecture audio

If you miss a lecture, don’t worry… you can download audio later or subscribe to podcast!

2010 lecture audio
2009 lecture audio
2008 lecture audio

Past Lectures

We also have information from past lectures, including presentation materials when available. Check ‘em out!

2011 lectures
2010 lectures
2009 lectures
2008 lectures
2007 lectures
2006 lectures

UHC lectures for your organization

Contact us to schedule a presentation of one of our lectures or to develop a special presentation for your organization.
Because UHC is a volunteer organization, we will charge a modest honorarium to cover the costs of speaking.
We thank you for your interest and support!

2011 lectures

1. Year-round Biking with Julie Hochstadter
2. Sustainable Behavior & Green Buildings: Living & Working in Sustainable Buildings
3. Urban Agriculture in Istanbul: 1,000 year old fortification wall gardens, airport gardens, and a women’s cooperative.

Year-round Biking with Julie Hochstadter

Lecturer: Julie Hochstadter
Date/time: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 6:30pm
Location: J. Merlo Branch of the Chicago Public Library
644 W. Belmont Avenue, 60657 (map)

Lecture Summary

Bike Winter is a grassroots organization that encourages cyclists to bike in all seasons and weather. Bike Winter hosts numerous workshops, classes, events and rides throughout the year teaching new and seasoned cyclists tips and tricks to riding in inclement weather. As co-chairs, Julie and Lowell travel around teaching others about the Bike Winter organization and give presentations on cold weather biking gear, bikes, maintenance and where to find additional resources. They also are the media contact for the organization.

This unique presentation will include the breakdown of a typical day as a winter cyclist, gear for winter cycling, upcoming events, and additional resources.

Lecturer’s Bio

For the past six years Julie Hochstadter’s “day job” has been as a residential real estate agent for Coldwell Banker. But her true passion is biking. Julie co-owns the local social network for Chicago area cyclists called The Chainlink. The mission of The Chainlink is to allow Chicago cyclists to find rides and routes, connect with other cyclists and share information. She is also a member of Active Transportation Alliance, and sits on the Chicago Cycling Club steering committee. Julie is dedicated to promoting cycling throughout Chicago, and leads by example: she gave up her car two years ago and rides her bike to real estate appointments, errands and other social gatherings. Julie is a year-round cyclist, and, along with her co-chair Lowell Nelson, were both nominated as the 2011 Chicago Bike Winter co-chairs. She lives in Ravenswood. Julie is also an animal lover and supporter of Jewish-Muslim community building.

Sustainable Behavior & Green Buildings: Living & Working in Sustainable Buildings with Michael Bloom

Speaker: Michael Bloom, Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings
Date: Wednesday, March 2
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: J. Merlo Branch of the Chicago Public Library
644 W. Belmont Avenue, 60657

Lecture Topic

The human element matters. While it may seem like building design, material selection, construction practices, regulations and certifications dominate conversations about sustainable buildings, sustainable building initiatives are increasingly accounting for human behavior when designing high-performance built environments. This lecture will present examples of current federal projects to illustrate how architects, engineers and even bureaucrats are borrowing from the social sciences to leverage the power of culture, behavior and social psychology to deliver environments that are not only built green but perform sustainably.

Examples will revolve around the newly released Sustainable Facilities Tool, and other initiatives sponsored by GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings.

Lecturer Bio

Michael F. Bloom is a Sustainability and Green Program Advisor with the U.S. General Services Administration, Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings. Previously, Michael served as Senior Workplace Specialist with GSA in Chicago, IL, responsible for the sustainable design strategic planning, renovation and project management of the Public Buildings Service Headquarters facilities in Chicago. His 9 years with GSA were punctuated by the opportunity to lead the GSA team that established and managed the Obama/Biden Presidential Transition offices in Chicago, winning a Federal Employee of the Year award for their efforts. He also worked to further the AdministrationSs sustainability goals by serving as a core team member on the $103M initiative to “green” the historic Chicago Mies Van Der Roe-designed Federal Center, a prominent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project. Mr. Bloom has earned two National Environmental Awards for Regional Headquarters space projects, including the first “Workplace 20.20” project, a prototype of GSA’s National initiative to treat office space, workplace technologies, and work processes as an integrated system strategically designed to enhance organizational effectiveness.

Michael is pursuing a PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago working on a dissertation entitled “Sustainable Design? : The US Green Building Council and the American Environmental Movement”. Before joining GSA, Michael worked in the hospitality industry for 16 years, serving as Special Projects Coordinator and Operations Manager for Maggiano’s Little Italy. When not otherwise occupied, Michael cherishes his time with his wife and two young daughters, often traveling back to the San Francisco Bay Area where he grew up. An avid cyclist, he bikes to work in Downtown Chicago, 10 miles each way, year-round.

Downloadable Content
Michael Bloom Presentation Part 1
Michael Bloom Presentation Part 2
Michael Bloom Presentation Part 3

Gardener in Istanbul (Taken by Ben Helphand)

“Urban Agriculture in Istanbul: 1,000 year old fortification wall gardens, airport gardens, and a women’s cooperative.”

Speakers: Anna Glenn, UHC & Ben Helphand, NeighborSpace
Location: J. Merlo Branch of the Chicago Public Library
644 W. Belmont Avenue, 60657 (map)

Lecture Summary

Ben and Anna visited three distinct sites of urban agriculture while visiting Turkey in October 2010. Their presentation will cover the (long) history of gardens in Turkey and current pressures that threaten the land and the livelihood of the ‘bostanji’, the urban gardeners who depend on the food for home consumption and income. Ben and Anna visited Turkey as environment sector participants in a cross-cultural leadership training program for emerging grassroots leaders. The program is implemented by Heartland International and is funded by the US Department of State.

Lecturer Bios

Ben Helphand is the Executive Director of NeighborSpace, a nonprofit urban land trust dedicated to preserving and sustaining community managed open spaces in Chicago. He is also on the board of the Active Transporation Alliance and the Board President of the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, a community group that advocates for the conversion of an elevated rail viaduct on Chicago’s NW Side into a multi-use linear park. Prior to working for NeighborSpace Ben worked as the Pedestrian Program Manager and Director of the Civic Footprint at the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Originally from Eugene, Oregon, Ben came to Chicago to pursue a master’s degree in the history of religion from the University of Chicago and then went on to Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. In his spare time Ben gardens at his home in Logan Square and co-creates the Election Day Advent Calendar, a democracy themed countdown calendar.

Anna Glenn is a Landscape Architect and Biologist and is Vice President of UHC. Read more on her work and involvement here.

2010 lectures

2010 lecture audio

1. The Wonderful World of Malcolm Wells
2. Special members’ event
3. Urban Habitat Chicago: Who we are, what we do, and why we do it
4. Julie Siegel, AFOPADI in Guatemala
5. Passive Houses for Active People: How to Plan for Energy-Efficient Buildings
6. Farming Our Factories: New Uses for Old Buildings
7. Community Activism through the Design Studio
10. Richard Sennett, sociologist

1. The Wonderful World of Malcolm Wells

Lecturers: Michael Repkin and Dave Hampton, UHC
Special guests: TBD
Date/time: Tuesday, January 5 at 6:30pm
(PLEASE NOTE OUR NEW LECTURE DATE/TIME)
Location: Lincoln Park Branch of the Chicago Public Library
1150 W. Fullerton Avenue, 60614 (map)

Lecture summary

The unique world which architect Malcolm Wells envisioned in evocative watercolors- well-designed, earth-sheltered, energy-efficient buildings integrated beautifully and seamlessly into the landscape - strikes the imagination.

His recent passing highlights his influence on “sustainable” design, holding it to a high standard.
This special presentation will include recollections of the man and his work, and efforts to bring his vision into reality with projects underway in our cities.

Learn more

Read our blog entry on Malcolm Wells.

3. Urban Habitat Chicago: Who we are, what we do, and why we do it

Lecturer: Anna Glenn, Vice President, UHC
Date/time: Wednesday, March 3 at 6:30pm
Location: J. Merlo Branch of the Chicago Public Library
644 W. Belmont Avenue, 60657 (map)

Lecture summary

Since 2005, Urban Habitat Chicago has been quietly transforming our corner of the world. See how how and why we do what we do.

Learn more about our lectures

4. Lessons from Guatemala - Applying Third World Sustainable Practices in the Developed World

Lecturers: Julie Siegel, AFOPADI in Guatemala (Earthways Foundation)
Date/time: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 6:30pm
Location: J. Merlo Branch of the Chicago Public Library
644 W. Belmont Avenue, 60657 (map)

Lecture summary

Julie is the Project Director for the AFOPADI reforesting project in Guatemala, she is also a local landscape designer, and is the past president of Midwest Ecological Landscaping Association.

“FINE GARDENING magazine describes Julie as having combined her background in dance, animation, architecture and writing with her love of plants to create gardens that are full of energy and speak to the larger regional aesthetics. Being raised by a photographer and a painter guaranteed Julie’s creative sensibility. Her decades of teaching and public speaking developed strong communication skills and independent thought. Julie’s involvement with various community, environmental, and social projects links her professional activity with her humanitarian beliefs.”

Downloadable content

2010_UHCLec_4_JulieSiegel.mp3 (MPEG audio, 67.3 MB)

5. Passive Houses for Active People: How to Plan for Energy-Efficient Buildings

Lecturer: Dave Hampton President, Board of Directors Urban Habitat Chicago
Date/time: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 6:30pm
Location: J. Merlo Branch of the Chicago Public Library
644 W. Belmont Avenue, 60657 (map)
Cost: FREE

Lecture summary

It’s not necessarily passive, and not just for houses.

Passive House is a high-performance energy-efficient design standard from Germany that grew out of superinsulated homes built in the Midwest from the early 1980’s. Useful for new construction and retrofits alike, projects large and small, this standard is fast gaining ground in the United States as the most realistic way to plan and implement energy-independent buildings.

You will learn:

  • The importance of a tight building envelope.
  • The basics of planning an energy-conscious home.
  • Principles of detailing for energy-efficiency, thermal comfort, moisture control, and good air sealing.

Sample projects will also be highlighted.

6. Farming Our Factories: New Uses for Old Buildings

Lecturer: John Edel
Date/time: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 6:30pm
Location: J. Merlo Branch of the Chicago Public Library
644 W. Belmont Avenue, 60657 (map)
Cost: FREE

Lecture Summary

This discussion will take you through the grassroots redevelopment of the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, the trials and tribulations of working with the city and our plans for a 95,000 sq. ft. vertical farm and artisanal food business incubator. In partnership with Professor Blake Davis from the Illinois Institute of Technology, we are designing an efficient aquaponics system to raise organic produce and several varieties of fish. The plan hinges on re-use of a vacant industrial building and seeks to break new ground in job creation, fresh food production and sustainable renovation methods. With the addition of new lighting technologies, open-source systems and careful control of all energy use and production within the building, we hope to demonstrate that urban farming can be practical, profitable and commonplace.

Downloadable content

Farming Our Factories (6.0 MB, PDF format)

2010_UHCLec_6_JohnEdel.mp3 (MPEG audio, 67.3 MB)

7. Community Activism through the Design Studio

DATE: Wednesday, July 7, 2010
TIME: 6:30pm
LOCATION: J. Merlo Branch of the Chicago Public Library
644 W. Belmont Avenue, 60657 (map)
COST: FREE!

Lecture summary

From the University of Kansas’ Architecture Department, Chair and Associate Professor, Nils Gore, and Associate Professor, Shannon Criss, will share with us the community-based projects they’ve done with architecture students in Mississippi and Kansas.

Under the auspices of the Small Town Center (STC) at Mississippi State, an outreach center of the School of Architecture, Nils and Shannone worked in small towns, helping them with design and planning. They were able to focus their efforts on revitalizing downtowns after large corporations sucked the business out and create a symbol of community unity by building a park in a racially-divided town.

After moving to Kansas (KU), they’ve done several projects in New Orleans, following Hurricane Katrina, working with a community organization in the 7th Ward. These are all small projects, prefabricated in Kansas, then transported to and installed in NOLA: a tool shed, an outdoor classroom, a mobile stage, and notice boards. Most recently they’ve also done a couple of projects in Kansas for a scientific research field station to help them with public outreach and education - an overlook deck with a view across a river valley and a visitors pavilion to introduce people to the field station.

They’ll also talk about the project that brought them to Chicago where they first met UHC’s Anna and Dave, which was a hypothetical, paper project they did with students regarding urban agriculture on the South Side.

The projects all have the constant themes of localism, sustainable materials, cultural connection, and what they call “guerrilla” or insurgent architecture: small, independent projects done kind of on-the-sly, and definitely on-the-cheap. Their hope as educators is to introduce to students the idea that architecture can be found in small, meaningful grassroots initiatives, in contrast to corporate mega-projects.

View some of the STC projects
View some of the KU projects

Lecturer Bios

Nils Bio:
I am an Associate Professor in Architecture at the University of Kansas, Chair of the Architecture Department, and a licensed architect. My education includes a B.Arch degree from Kansas State University, and an M.Arch. degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design. Prior to my appointment at KU in 2001, I taught at the Boston Architectural Center and at Mississippi State University. My community-based design/build projects have won numerous design awards from the American Institute of Architects, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, and the Young Architects Forum. The work has been exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt Museum, and published in Domus, Batture, Cityscape, and the Journal of Architectural Education.

Shannon Bio:
Shannon Criss is an Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Design and is a licensed architect. Her projects and writings are focused on issues related to sustainability and engaging everyday buildings with urban places. She has delivered papers and published numerous articles related to community-design practices, one noted in Good Deeds, Good Design, Community Service Through Architecture published by Princeton Architectural Press. She has been supported with a variety of grants, the most recent award from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards for innovative teaching in sustainability. She received her Masters of Architecture degree from Harvard University and a Bachelors degree in architecture from Kansas State University. Prior to teaching at KU, she taught at the Boston Architecture Center, Harvard Graduate School of Design and Mississippi State University.

Downloadable content

Community Activism through the Design Studio (6.3 MB, PDF format)

2010_UHC_Lec7_NilsGore_and_ShannonCriss.mp3 (MP3 Audio File, 80.0 MB)

Sennett Lecture Cancelled
UHC regrets to announce the cancellation of the lecture this Thursday, December 2nd. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Richard Sennett is unable to come to Chicago at this time. UHC is working to reschedule the lecture, and those who were signed up to attend will be contacted and given the first opportunity to reserve their place at that time.

10. Richard Sennett, Sociologist

Lecturer: Richard Sennett
Date/time: Will be rescheduled
Location: The Ballroom at Graham Foundation Madlener House 4 West Burton Place Chicago, Illinois 60610 (map)
Cost: FREE!

Lecture summary

This engaging speaker grew up in Chicago’s Cabrini Green public housing complex, nearly became a classical cellist, and was drawn to sociology after sustaining a hand injury.
Richard Sennett brings a unique perspective to the design of buildings and cities.
His groundbreaking books have focused on the relation of the human body to the architecture of the city and how people move through - and use - urban spaces.

Learn more about our lectures

UHC Lecture Series

2009 lectures

2009 lecture audio

1. A Future
2. Interior Design Choices and Your Health
3. Vertical Is The New Horizon
4. Let’s Make It Hot! The Built Environment: Land, Water, Soil and the City. Lecturer: Doug Johnston, Soils Scientist, Morton Arboretum
5. Flip-a-Strip: Reimagining One of America’s Least Loved Suburban Building Typologies. Lecturers: Richard Avery, Hampton Avery Architects and Jess TerMeer, giffin’termeer
6. Recent Landscape Architecture Projects. Lecturer: Kees Lokman, Terry Guen Design Associates
7. Independence Day 2009. Lecturer: Michael Repkin, Repkin Biosystems
8. Commercial Real Estate Finance: Going Green 2009. Lecturer: Dan Kastilahn
9. Living Structures
10. Notes towards the Definition of an Urban Ecology
11. The Burnham Plan of Chicago: Smackdown!
12. The Joy Garden at Northside Prep: Reconnecting a School to its Environment through a Meaningful Landscape

1. A Future

Lecturer: Ecological Designer and UHC president Mike Repkin, of Repkin Biosystems.
Date/time: Sunday, January 11th, 2009 at 7:00pm

2. Interior Design Choices and Your Health

Lecturer: Paula O’Connell, Environmentally Sustainable Designs
Date/time: Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 at 7:00pm
Location: Budlong Woods Branch of the Chicago Public Library
5630 N. Lincoln, Chicago, Illinois 60659

Lecture summary

The design choices we make about the place we live, work and sleep can either
benefit or harm our well-being. Paula O’Connell of Environmentally Sustainable Designs will share some of her knowledge and experience with us.

Downloadable content

Interior_Design_and_Your_Health.mp3 (MPEG audio, 58.4 MB)

3. Vertical Is The New Horizon

Lecturer: Nicholas Petty, MLA
Date/time: Wednesday, March 4th, 2009 at 7:00pm
Location: Budlong Woods Branch of the Chicago Public Library
5630 N. Lincoln, Chicago, Illinois 60659

Lecture summary

Landscape architect Nicholas Petty, MLA will share with us his research into vertical growing systems and the opportunities that exist in built spaces.
A question and answer session and discussion will follow the lecture.

Downloadable content

Vertical Is The New Horizon.pdf (4.5 MB, PDF format)

4. Let’s Make It Hot!
The Built Environment: Land, Water, Soil and the City

Lecturer: Doug Johnston, Soils Scientist, Morton Arboretum
Date/time: Wednesday, April 1 at 7:00pm
Location: Budlong Woods Branch of the Chicago Public Library
5630 N. Lincoln, Chicago, Illinois 60659

Lecture summary

Doug Johnston will discuss the large impact which cities and land management
have upon biogeochemistry and the environment. This will include an in-depth conversation of what biogeochemistry is and how our natural
resources and environmental health are subsequently affected by it.
This presentation will address complex concepts, but will be geared toward the layperson.
A visual presentation with handouts will be followed by a discussion with the audience.

5. Flip-a-Strip: Reimagining One of America’s Least Loved Suburban Building Typologies

Lecturers: Richard Avery, Hampton Avery Architects and Jess TerMeer, giffin’termeer
Date/time: Wednesday, May 6, 7:00pm.
Location: Graham Foundation, 4 West Burton Place (and State Street). See a map
Take Red line to Clark/Division. Nearby buses: 22, 36, 72, 151

Lecture summary

Chicago-based architect Richard Avery and industrial designer Jess TerMeer discuss The Genetically Modified Strip, their response to the Flip-a-Strip design competition sponsored by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art that targets for architectural remediation one of America’s least loved suburban building typologies - the Strip Mall.

Downloadable content

Genetically Modified Strip (2.9 MB, PDF format)

6. Recent Landscape Architecture Projects

Lecturer: Kees Lokman, Terry Guen Design Associates
Date/time: Wednesday, June 3 at 7:00pm
Location: Budlong Woods Branch of the Chicago Public Library
5630 N. Lincoln, Chicago, Illinois 60659

Lecture summary

Kees Lokman of Terry Guen Design Associates will discuss how growing up in a densely populated country, partially under sea level, has shaped his perception of landscape and what role landscape architects should play in re-shaping the post-industrial city. For a number of environmental, cultural, and economic reasons, landscape architecture has a unique chance to redefine itself as a more prominent design discipline. Besides traditional elements like gardens, parks and public outdoor spaces, the scope of today’s practice needs to take a progressive approach to prove it’s capable of operating in the spaces between architecture, infrastructural systems, and natural ecologies.

Kees will show a number of TGDA’s recent landscape and urban design projects within the Chicago region. These designs show complex and vigorous layering of different systematic and programmatic elements, yet they subtly allow a wide range of passive and active programs to rejuvenate and sustain the soul of an individual user, community, or city.

Speaker biography

Kees Lokman is a landscape and urban designer with Terry Guen Design Associates. He received both his BLA (2003) and MLA (2006) from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, a program built upon a strong Dutch planning and design tradition, providing innovative and environmentally sensitive solutions for multiple uses in a complex, densely populated hydrological delta landscape. His work includes redesign of urban post-war neighborhoods for contemporary use and ecological sustainability.

Kees’ project experience at TGDA includes Ecological Master Plans for the City of Chicago’s 130 acre Ford Calumet Environmental Center and the Village of Fontana (WI) Duck Pond Recreation Center. He is project designer for Aurora’s River Edge Park, which received a 2007 Illinois ASLA Honor Award. Additionally he is designer and project manager for several LEED rated CPS schools that focus on creating campus spaces which move students and staff through sustainable green environs as part of their daily site experience. Prior to joining Terry Guen Design Associates, Kees worked for renowned planting designer Piet Oudolf, a leading figure of the “New Wave Planting” movement and designer of the Lurie Garden in Chicago.

Recently Kees joined the faculty of Archeworks, alternative design school located in Chicago, where students work in multidisciplinary teams with nonprofit partners to create design solutions for social needs. He is leading the Little Village Pocket Parks Project; students are partnered with a group of community-based organizations in Chicago’s Little Village community to design of a series of new community-managed open spaces, or Pocket Parks.

Downloadable content

Recent Landscape Architecture Projects (9.3 MB, PDF format)

7. Independence Day 2009

Lecturer: Michael Repkin, Repkin Biosystems
Date/time: Wednesday, July 1 at 7:00pm
Location: Budlong Woods Branch of the Chicago Public Library
5630 N. Lincoln, Chicago, Illinois 60659

Lecture summary

Back by popular demand, UHC President Michael Repkin presents the followup to his 2008 lecture, in the context of our current eco-situation.

As we move forward into a new reality, we must find new ways to create
resilient independent systems to provide ourselves and our loved ones with
life support. People are looking for ways to be less dependent on
traditional water, energy and food sources and this discussion will address
these concerns and provide opportunities for action.

One way to ensure an abundance of resources is to examine our interaction with these resources. Michael Repkin will provide an overview of human life support, the 2175 concept and will discuss the SWEN model of resource analysis.

Speaker biography

Repkin is an ecological designer and researcher specializing in biological resource recovery and sustainable food production. He led young students in projects that focus on human life support systems and technologies for five years in Chicago.

While serving in the Army, his assignments included laboratory positions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

He is also President of Repkin Biosystems, Inc., a company “dedicated to enabling customers with the tools that are needed to provide human life support utilizing biological processes, and methods that are compatible with living systems”.

Michael Repkin is one of the co-founders of Urban Habitat Chicago.

REGISTER NOW

Downloadable content

See a flyer for this event

8. Commercial Real Estate Finance: Going Green 2009

Lecturer: Dan Kastilahn
Date/time: **NEW DATE!**Wednesday, August 12 at 7:00pm
Location: Budlong Woods Branch of the Chicago Public Library
5630 N. Lincoln, Chicago, Illinois 60659

Lecture summary

If green building is on your wishlist, please don’t miss our this free lecture.
The timely how-to-guide: Commercial Real Estate Finance: Going Green 2009 will be presented by financial wizard Dan Kastilahn. He will address the basics of commercial real estate finance in the capital markets. Topics will include pros and cons for developers, investors, lenders, property managers, etc., when it comes to green buildings.

A number of events have taken place recently that affect opportunities in developing green real estate. The housing crisis may come to mind first, but the Stimulus package and other government programs play a role, as do the Chicago Climate Action Plan and other targeted loan and financing incentives.

Topics addressed in the lecture include:
Traditional real estate finance in the capital markets, including portfolio lenders, securitization - (CMBS), and the basics of underwriting.
Why green commercial buildings? A discussion of corporate sustainability initiatives, the benefits of energy savings, as well as rents and occupancy strategies for developers, owners, and property managers.
How does “green” affect financing today? Finding lenders and property insurers, and other key steps for investing in green commercial real estate in the current market.

Speaker biography

Dan Kastilahn is Assistant Vice President of Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities at Dominion Bond Rating Service Limited, a rating agency that offers credit analysis of corporate, financial institutions, and government issues in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Dan got his “green” thumb while enrolled in an Environmental Management course at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He returned home to Chicago to get his Masters in Environmental Management & Enterprise at IIT’s Stuart School of Business under Dr. George Nassos.

Before working in finance, Dan interned at the City of Chicago’s Department of Environment, primarily in the Permitting and Enforcement division and in collaboration with Streets and Sanitation on the city’s recycling programs. Dan is a green building advocate who brings a financial perspective to the issue.

9. Living Structures

Lecturers: Mike Repkin and Dave Hampton, Urban Habitat Chicago
Date/time: Wednesday, September 2 at 7:00pm
Location: Budlong Woods Branch of the Chicago Public Library
5630 N. Lincoln, Chicago, Illinois 60659

Lecture summary

This fast-paced, lively discussion will highlight living structures, ranging from living bridges, living fences in Africa, and animal architecture such as coral reefs and bird’s nests to edible homes, rooftop gardens, and espalier tree forming for food production.

Downloadable content

See the photos here

10. Notes towards the Definition of an Urban Ecology

Lecturer: David Thompson, Integrated Sustainability Solutions
Date/time: Wednesday, October 7 at 7:00pm
Location: Lincoln Park Branch of the Chicago Public Library
1150 W. Fullerton Avenue, 60614 (map)

Lecture summary

A presentation on the Chicago Center for Urban Ecology, by its multi-talented executive director, David M. Thompson.

This new ecological center project introduces residents of underserved communities to environmental science, sustainable practices, and the green economy, in addition to providing locally-farmed fresh produce. Conceived of as a portal to environmental education and activities, rather than as a simple point of production, the center enlarges the scope of the urban farm, in order to achieve the broadest possible social and economic benefits.

Multiple organizations with expertise in cultivation, distribution, consumption, and waste recovery have come together to contribute to the establishment of the Center for Urban Ecology. In addition, however, to providing new food-system infrastructure in communities such as Woodlawn, Washington Park, and Englewood, the center also provides opportunities for area residents to develop saleable skills, from constructing computer models to project management.

Archeworks, WeFarm America, Purple Asparagus, and the University of chicago have all partenered to provide support for the Chicago Center in it’s early years. We hope that you, too, will support this amazing project by attending Wednesday’s presentation!

Speaker biography

David M. Thompson is currently the Executive Director of the Chicago Center for Urban Ecology. Previously, he was Director of Development and Strategic Initiatives at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law.
From 2004 to 2007, David was Associate Dean for Planning & Programs in the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago, in which capacity he supervised communications, arts programming, facilities, community partnerships, and capital projects.

David also worked as Associate Director of Gift Planning in the University of Chicago, and as an associate attorney with the firm of Sachnoff & Weaver. After completing his master’s degree at Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship, David completed his Ph.D. in comparative literature at the University of Chicago and his J.D. at Northwestern University.

Downloadable content

NotesDefineUrbanEcology.mp3 (MPEG audio, 52.6 MB)

11. The Burnham Plan of Chicago: Smackdown!

Lecturers: Various
Special guest moderator: Lynn Becker
Date/time: Wednesday, November 4 at 7:00pm
Location: Schubas Tavern
3159 N Southport Ave
Chicago, IL 60657 (map)
(773) 525-2508
Suggested donation: $5

Lecture summary

This lively, fast-paced discussion, moderated by Chicago’s one-and-only Lynn Becker, will feature a panel of local practitioners who will each take on one aspect of the 1909 Plan of Chicago by Burnham and Bennett, make it relevant and accessible by bringing it up-to-date, then offer real-world solutions on how it might be implemented.

Speakers

Samuel Assefa, AIA, LEED AP, Principal of Phoenix Sustainable Asset Management
Richard Avery, Architect, ALA, Principal, Hampton Avery Architects
Nicholas Petty, MLA, Project Manager, Urban Habitat Chicago
Rashmi Ramaswamy and Mike Newman, Architects, SHED Studio
Leslie Roth, Architect
Zoka Zola, Architect, AIA, RIBA, LEED AP, Principal, Zoka Zola Architecture + Urban Design

Downloadable content

BurnhamSmackdown_Main.mp3 (MPEG audio, 114 MB)
BurnhamSmackdown_QandA.mp3 (MPEG audio, 91.5 MB)

12. The Joy Garden at Northside Prep: Reconnecting a School to its Environment through a Meaningful Landscape

Lecturers: Nicholas Petty, Michael Repkin, UHC
Students of Northside College Preparatory High School
Date/time: Wednesday, December 2 at 7:00pm
Location: Lincoln Park Branch of the Chicago Public Library
1150 W. Fullerton Avenue, 60614 (map)

Lecture summary

UHC’s Nicholas Petty and Michael Repkin will present their ground-breaking (literally!) year-long experience of turning a quarter-acre of brownfield into a landscape that reconnects a school with its local environment by engaging special-needs students, producing food for people, providing habitat for local wildlife, and introducing beauty and variety.

We’ll also hear how and why students from a summer work program joined in the effort, formed a garden club, and will help manage the garden in the coming years.

Downloadable content

2009_UHC_Lec12_JOY_Garden_MR_NP.mp3 (MPEG audio, 97.6 MB)
The Joy Garden (6.4 MB, PDF format)

2008 lectures

2008 lecture audio

1. Urban Agriculture: Sustenance, Security, and Beauty
2. Deconstruction: The Next Step for True Sustainability in Chicago
3a. Commercial Real Estate Finance: Going Green
3b. Creating an Abundant Water Supply for All Humans
4. Building a Future for Construction and Demolition Debris
5. Omitted
6. What’s Your Building’s Eco-Value?, Mike Jackson, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
7. Rethinking Independence Day, Michael Repkin, Repkin Biosystems
8. High-Performance Residential Rehab, Dave Hampton, Echo Studio

1. Urban Agriculture: Sustenance, Security, and Beauty

Lecturer: Emily Lake
Date/time: Wednesday, January 9 at 6:30pm
Location: Uptown Branch Library
929 W. Buena Ave., Chicago, Illinois (map)

Downloadable content

Urban_Agriculture.mp3 (MPEG audio, 44.0 MB)

2. Deconstruction: The Next Step for True Sustainability in Chicago

Lecturer: Dave Hampton
Date/time: Wednesday, February 6 at 6:30pm
Location: Budlong Woods Branch Library
5630 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL (map)

An overview on why deconstruction is a timely issue, the basics of how and why it works including examples of projects large and small, challenges and possibilities for implementation, and the true motivation for advocating for this viable alternative to demolition.
To be included will be an update on steps the City of Chicago is taking to encourage deconstruction in 2008.
See our deconstruction advocacy project page for more information.

Downloadable content

Deconstruction: The Next Step for True Sustainability in Chicago (5.5 MB, PDF format)

3a. Commercial Real Estate Finance: Going Green

Lecturer: Dan Kastilahn
Date/time: Wednesday, March 5 at 6:30pm
Location: Lincoln Park Branch Library
1150 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago, IL (map)

Dan Kastilahn will address the basics of commercial real estate finance in the capital markets. Topics will include pros and cons for developers, investors, lenders, property managers, etc. when it comes to green buildings.

Downloadable content

Commercial Real Estate Financing: Going Green (1.4 MB, PDF format)

3b. Creating an Abundant Water Supply for All Humans

Lecturer: Michael Repkin
Date/time: Wednesday, March 12 at 7:00pm
Location: Budlong Woods Branch Library
5630 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL (map)

4. Building a Future for Construction and Demolition Debris

Lecturer: Jenna Kunde, WasteCap Wisconsin
Date/time: Wednesday, April 2 at 6:30pm
Location: Lincoln Park Branch Library
1150 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago, IL (map)

Lecture summary

As sustainable building takes hold across the nation, more and more people are seeking ways to reduce and recycle construction and demolition debris. This lecture will look at the trends in construction and demolition debris recovery, investigate why reuse and recycling of construction and demolition debris is important and growing, provide attendees with case studies of successful construction and demolition debris reuse and recycling along with ideas of how you can replicate these successes on your projects, and discuss reuse and recycling markets — what’s available, what happens when the materials leave the job site, what to watch out for, what the trends are.

Speaker biography

Jennifer Kunde, Executive Director for WasteCap Wisconsin, has worked in waste reduction and recycling for sixteen years and is known nationally for her and WasteCap’s work in construction and demolition debris recycling. WasteCap Wisconsin has helped over $3 billion of construction and demolition projects successfully reuse and recycle. In addition, she co-authored and serves as a trainer for WasteCap’s day-long Construction and Demolition Debris Recycling Training and Accreditation program.

Kunde was named “Recycler of the Year” by Wisconsin’s state recycling association. Under her leadership, WasteCap Wisconsin developed the first drywall recycling efforts in Wisconsin for Type X drywall, obtained the first-in-the-state exemption for recycling of engineered wood along with dimensional lumber, coordinated the first-in-the-state ceiling tile recycling effort and one of the first commercial carpet recycling efforts.

She gives presentations locally, statewide and nationally about WasteCap’s work including recent presentations at Greenbuild, National Recycling Coalition, Decon, and the National Environmental Performance Track Conference. She was also a member of the planning committee of Decon ‘07 and Chair of the Waste Reduction Workgroup of Wisconsin’s Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Waste Materials Recovery and Disposal.

6. What’s Your Building’s Eco-Value?

Lecturer: Mike Jackson, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Date/time: Wednesday, June 4 at 6:30pm
Location: Budlong Woods Branch Library
5630 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL (map)

Lecture summary

Historic buildings, particularly commercial and institutional buildings constructed in the era of masonry bearing wall construction contain a large amount of embodied energy. This program will look at some of the historic and contemporary data on the building science of embodied energy (a.k.a embedded carbon). Calculating embodied energy is not necessarily an easy task. First there is the need to estimate the total amount of material used in a building, which can be challenging without any original construction documents. Secondly, contemporary research materials on the embodied energy of archaic building materials have not been assembled into one research report. However, there are several research reports on the embodied energy of construction materials that can be used as a starting point and some new web sites.

This program will also examine how embodied energy is used in new green building rating systems. A comparison will also be made of the embodied and operating energy of selected building types to produce a life cycle assessment of total energy utilization.

Speaker biography

Mike Jackson, FAIA is the Chief Architect of the Preservation Services Division of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA). He directs the IHPA architectural staff in evaluating changes to historic buildings when those alterations fall under a variety of regulatory and benefit programs. Mr. Jackson has been with the IHPA since 1983 and was the project manager for the restoration of the Dana-Thomas House in Springfield and the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington. He also supervises the IHPA design services provided to the Illinois Main Street program. Mr. Jackson holds degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Columbia University. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. His professional experience includes work in New York City and New Orleans as well as communities across Illinois. He is a visiting professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Mike Jackson, FAIA is the Chief Architect of the Preservation Services Division of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA). Mr. Jackson holds degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champign and Columbia University. He is a visiting professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Downloadable content

YourBldgsEcoValue_.mp3
(MPEG audio, 115 MB)
What’s Your Building’s Eco-Value?, copy of PowerPoint presentation (3.0 MB, PDF format)
Download a flyer for this presentation (308 KB, PDF format).

7. Rethinking Independence Day

Lecturer: Michael Repkin, Repkin Biosystems
Date/time: Wednesday, July 2 at 7:00pm
Location: Budlong Woods Branch Library
5630 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL (map)
Get there by CTA

Lecture summary

As we move forward in a new reality, we must find new ways to create resilient independent systems to provide ourselves and our loved ones with life support. One way to ensure an abundance of resources is to examine our interaction with these resources. Michael Repkin will provide an overview of human life support, the 2175 concept and will discuss the SWEN model of resource analysis.

Seating limited to 30. Please register here for this event.
Join us afterwards for dinner at Hubs Restaurant!

Downloadable content

Rethinking Independence Day brochure (364 KB, PDF format).

8. High-Performance Residential Rehab

Lecturer: Dave Hampton, Echo Studio
Date/time: Wednesday, August 6 at 6:30pm
Location: LivingRoom Realty
1530 W. Superior St., Chicago, IL (map)
Get there by CTA

Lecture summary

Rehabilitating and renovating existing buildings for very different clients - a family and a speculative residential developer - required rethinking preconceived notions of sustainability. Through a collaborative design and construction administration process and close attention to detailing the thermal envelope, cost-effective choices brought energy high-performance into the realm of possibility for the average homeowner or developer.
A brief discussion of the merits of various green building standards such as Energy Star and LEED for Homes will also be included.
A question and answer session and discussion will follow the lecture.

2007 lectures

1. Growing Plants on Rooftops in Chicago
2. The History and Relevance of North Park Village
3. Gold, Not Garbage

1. Growing Plants on Rooftops in Chicago

Lecturer: Michael Repkin
Date/time: Wednesday, September 26 at 6:30pm

For the first of the Fall 2007 UHC Lecture Series, Michael Repkin talks about creating opportunities for human health, economic growth, and national security… by growing plants on roofs!

Download a PDF of this presentation (1.4 MB)
Audio clips:
…everything that we need to live… (0:28 sec, 284 KB)

Current aerial view of Chicago’s North Park Village. Image source: NASA

2. The History and Relevance of North Park Village

Lecturer: Anna Glenn
Date/time: Wednesday, October 10 at 6:30pm

Landscape architect-in-training Anna Glenn will give a presentation on the history and relevance of North Park Village. This 155-acre site in the heart of Chicago, once used as a plant nursery, is currently home to such functions as a recycling facility, senior housing, a city park, a nature center, a 46-acre interpretative ‘nature preserve’… and a an occasional (and controversial) destination for a local deer population.

3. Gold, Not Garbage

Lecturer: Michael Repkin
Date/time: Wednesday, October 17 at 6:30pm

Ecological designer and longtime composter Michael Repkin talks about saving kitchen scraps and even “waste” paper (as UHC does after every meal we share). The results are biological nutrient recovery systems to create perpetual soil fertility for an abundant future.

2006 lectures

1. Fabric in Architecture
2. Disseminated Biofiltration for Mitigation of Anthropogenic Contaminants
3. Beyond Earth Day - The Chicago 2175 Plan
4. Pioneering Engineers - Economy of Materials from Robert Maillart to Shigeru Ban

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