In 2015, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW Local 134) sought an inviting, inspiring home for their members that would create a strong community presence and speak to the history and future vitality of their trade union. The site of the former 1960s Drake Elementary School in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago was a perfect location—an opportunity to transform an existing structure while contributing to the ongoing revitalization of this vibrant community. The union’s new 70,000-sf home is comprised of 48,000 sf of renovation and 22,000 sf of new construction.
A strong sense of identity was created along Martin Luther King Drive by the powerful use of light. An expansive back-lit feature wall and in-grade plaza lighting use LED technology and sophisticated controls to create a dramatic “glowing” atmosphere for monthly meeting nights, but can be dimmed to more subtle levels on non-event evenings. This large-scale display of light speaks boldly to the trade union’s craft, celebrating the importance of individual members who will be illuminated as they traverse the plaza and enter the transparent lobby.
In addition to the large assembly hall, corporate offices, conference rooms, and lounges accommodate the union’s business agents. A gymnasium serving both the surrounding neighborhood as well as IBEW members reinforces the message of community engagement as a central theme. The energy performance of the combined renovation/expansion was positively impacted by exterior enclosure technology and the installation of efficient environmental systems.
The former Drake Elementary School was transformed into a vibrant location where two programs converge – a Union Hall where members convene and a community center that welcomes local residents. This is an example of adaptive reuse at its best – bringing together diverse communities within a space that has been given new life.
Additionally, the transformation of the former Drake Elementary School was intended to dramatically improve the building envelope and environmental systems, thereby reducing energy consumption as much as possible while still accommodating the building’s new use. The building now consumes 78% less energy than it did previously, resulting in a cost savings of 60%.
The energy consumption for the building is now 2,401,783.27 kBTU, compared to the original consumption of 10,986,665.96 kBTU, with an EUI of 34.66 kBTU/sf compared to the original 156.71 kBTU/sf.
The predicted regional energy reduction per Energy Star Target Finder is 69.
The building utilizes all LED light fixtures with a centralized lighting system, enabling building engineers to manage the entire building from a desktop computer. The system provides configuration, monitoring, and reporting capabilities, to assist in achieving maximum efficiency. The integral timeclock feature allows scheduling of lights both by time of day and astronomic time operations. The lighting complies with IECC2015 lighting control requirements and exceeds lighting power density by 32%.
The building utilizes water-cooled systems for the entire facility. The systems consist of three (3) air handling units (AHU), one (1) dedicated outside air unit (DOAU), and three (3) water-cooled variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems. The AHUs and DOAU are water-sourced heat pumps. The system uses an adiabatic fluid cooler for cooling, and high-efficiency condensing boilers for heating. The adiabatic fluid cooler provides improved efficiency over the standard fluid cooler while satisfying the architectural requirements of limiting equipment on the roof. Condensing boilers with efficiencies of more than 95% satisfy the heating demand for the entire building. They also have the additional benefit of being located indoors, which helps with maintenance and avoids exposure of the equipment to outdoor elements.
All AHUs are equipped with energy recovery enthalpy wheels to recover the exhaust energy, as well as air-side economizers for free cooling when outside air conditions allow. The toilet exhaust for the office area is also routed through the DOAU to recover the exhaust energy through the enthalpy wheel.
The mechanical systems in the building comply with IECC 2015 and provide a highly efficient system to the owner by incorporating leading energy efficiency practices while maintain comfort for the indoor environment.
The new location of the IBEW Local 134 Union Hall was selected based on a strong belief in social sustainability, as well as creating a local, easily accessible home for the union and an inviting space to the revitalizing community of Bronzeville. IBEW Local 134’s new home is the beacon of Bronzeville, showcasing future jobs in the industry and illuminating a potential path to the trades for local youth. Its location allows easy access from McCormick Place and the Loop, allowing laborers to sustain a work-life balance and stay involved with their union. A community gymnasium is dedicated to the local community’s youth, inviting residents to gather and enjoy the resources of the former Drake Elementary School.
The formal walk score is 74, the transit score is 67, and the bike score is 79. If these numbers took into consideration that many members work at McCormick Place, which is .7 miles away, they would be much higher.
This building has a large assembly hall which greatly impacts the occupancy up to three times per month. The adjacent parking lot includes 190 parking spaces for the maximum occupancy of 1,100 people. This represents 0.17 spaces per occupant when the assembly hall is in full use.
Of the 2.7 acres designed for the IBEW Local 134 Union Hall, approximately 96% will drain precipitation events to an underground detention system located in the south parking lot. This detention system temporarily holds storm water to decrease the strain on Chicago’s public system during rain events. Approximately 20,000 sf of permeable pavers and rain gardens were designed for the site to promote direct infiltration, while creating aesthetically pleasing features. Although there is no direct reuse of rain water, the rain garden plants will thrive off nearly half of the south parking lot drainage.
Annual regulated potable water use is 71,855 g/yr, about 1 ga/sf/yr with a 35.82% reduction from baseline.
This project met the architect’s Sustainability Standard that requires all projects to meet certain sustainable criteria, including the avoidance of indoor pollutants as follows:
- Use LEED NC for Schools thresholds for low-emitting materials
- Use bio-composite materials with no added urea-formaldehyde
- Mechanical systems require the use of MERV 8 filtration, protection of all air inlets, and filters to be changed monthly when the system is in use during construction
Chicago requires the diversion of construction waste for all commercial projects in the city. Waste Management managed the diversion of waste and reported a diversion rate of 78%. In addition, the rate of diversion for demolition is 98%.