Green Wiki

The Green Exchange is a sustainable and green retail and office development project in Chicago, Illinois, designed to house more than one hundred eco-friendly businesses and organizations within a single building. Developers of the building are currently seeking LEED Platinum status for their rehabilitation of a historic landmark four-story manufacturing facility originally built in 1914[1]. Once completed, the retail and office space will be open to the public and is intended to serve as an important Midwest destination for green consumers.


Green Exchange occupies the former Frederick Cooper Lamp Company building, built in 1914, and originally home to the Vassar Swiss Underwear Company. Cooper bought the building in 1967 and in 2005, relocated to China[2]. In 2004, Cooper announced it was closing down the factory in Chicago. In order to keep the building from being turned into condominiums, the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA), a grass-roots community organization, organized neighbors, veteran Cooper workers, and the U.S. Green Building Council to form the Cooper Lamps Task Force. As Cooper began to lay off workers during the summer of 2005, the Task Force negotiated for severance benefits from the owners and applied for enhanced job-training from the city. With the support of 1st Ward Alderman Manny Flores for a jobs-focused use for the plant, the building was sold to Baum Development, LLC, a commercial developer who agreed to pursue a use for the building that would create jobs[3].

Baum Development worked with the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and the National Park Service to win landmark protection for the building. Ninety-six percent of the original building structure will be rehabilitated and maintained to preserve this landmark structure[4].

Three times larger than the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center in Portland, OR, Green Exchange is the country’s largest sustainable business community that will only house tenants offering green products and services[5]. According to David Baum, one of the developers, "In order to be a tenant in Green Exchange, you must be doing something to advance the green marketplace.” Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley has described the project as “a great example of the public-private partnerships that are working together to help make Chicago one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the nation.”[6]


Green Exchange is located on West Diversey Avenue alongside the Kennedy Expressway, from which the building’s iconic four story clock tower can be seen. The tower underwent significant rehabilitation in 2008 to restore the façade’s original architectural ornamentation. The building‘s conversion has been headed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture. The first and second floors are intended for retail stores and showrooms while the third and fourth floors are for shared and individual office spaces[6]. About 20 percent of these are work/live units ranging from 700 to 1,500 square feet for business owners who want a kitchenette and bath and for start-up owners who want to live in their workspace. Additional tenant amenities include bike rooms, showers and environmentally-friendly meeting and event space[4].

The 272,000-square-foot, four story building is U-shaped, divided into two wings separated by a courtyard. This layout allows natural light to penetrate from more than 600 windows that surround the building. The courtyard is being converted into a parking structure with priority parking for low-emitting vehicles.

The roof of the parking structure will feature an 8,041-square-foot sky garden that will be accessible from the second floor[5]. Rain is collected in a 41,329-gallon cistern underneath the ground floor and used to irrigate plants and grass on the roof[6].

The building lowers utility costs in part due to a building envelope consisting of highly insulated walls and roofs combined with 600 high performance windows. The escalator slows down when no one is using it, thereby reducing energy usage by as much as 30 percent when compared to standard models[6].

A sophisticated HVAC system allows for individualized control of tenant spaces and increased occupant comfort. Solar thermal panels provide hot water and cooling to the building[5] and non-toxic construction materials and coatings improve the indoor air quality[6].


  1. “Going Green with ABC 7”, ABC 7 Chicago – July, 2008
  2. June, 2008, "Nice Modernists," Dwell Magazine, issue 64, page 80
  4. 4.0 4.1 Jeanette Almada, December 9, 2007, "Green Exchange taking the next step," Chicago Tribune Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Almada" defined multiple times with different content
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Azam Ahmed, February 25, 2007, "Going green: Project envisions eco-friendly shopping center," Chicago Tribune
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Keith Schneider, July 25, 2007, "In Chicago, a Haven for Green Enterprise," New York Times Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Schneider" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Schneider" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Schneider" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Schneider" defined multiple times with different content

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