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Chicago’s Green Alleys


Chicago has one of the most extensive infrastructures of any city in the world, with approximately 1,900 miles of public alleys, that’s about 3,500 acres of paved impermeable surface. The city is committed to creating a greener, more sustainable environment by using best management practices in alley improvement and construction. Called ‘Green Alleys’, under the management of Chicago’s Department of Transportation (CDOT), it aims to stop polluted rainwater in the city’s alleyways from ending up in adjacent Lake Michigan. Since the program began as a pilot in 2006, and through 2008, more than 80 Green Alleys have already been installed.

Green Alleys are part of CDOT’s “green infrastructure” — which includes recycled construction materials, permeable pavement, and recycled rubber sidewalks, thereby reducing the amount of construction and industrial waste hauled to landfills. Other green alley techniques include using proper grading and pitch to facilitate drainage and applying the pavement on the full width of an alley, or simply in a center trench. According to CDOT’s Green Alley handbook the following techniques are used when designing green alleys.

greenalleys_after_small Stormwater Management: Up to 80% of the rainwater falling on alley surfaces throughout the year could pass through permeable paving back into the earth, thereby reducing localized flooding and recharging groundwater. Microbes (that thrive on oil) are seeded into the pavement or naturally migrate there, which cleanse the water of pollutants from cars and lawns. The cleaner water makes its way into the groundwater, called an aquifer, and then flows into Lake Michigan.

Heat Reduction: High-albedo pavement, a lighter-colored surface that reflects sunlight energy instead of absorbing it, staying cool on hot days and thereby reducing the “urban heat island effect”, a condition where dense urban areas become several degrees warmer due to the density of buildings and amount of heat absorbing paved areas.

Energy Conservation and Glare Reduction: Sky-compliant light fixtures that provide a safe environment in the alleys are energy efficient and reduce glare and light pollution to the point where you can actually see the stars at night.

Way to go Chicago! Proud of ya’ll !

Here is the chuckle of the day! This is from South Africa and will blow you away!

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20 Responses to “Chicago’s Green Alleys”

  1. Says:

    Chicago’s Green Alleys | Forced Green…

    The city is committed to creating a greener, more sustainable environment…

  2. Jean Chia Says:

    hi there! congrates for being festured at SlogBite! YOur site looks great! I am also with the Greens! 🙂

    Hv a nice day!

    Jean Chias last blog post..AGP is in

  3. Diane Scott Says:

    Spent three years in Chicago many moons ago, and I’ve got to say at that time, I was amazed at how clean the streets where – especially for such a large (and much older) city. The only thing they needed to work on was air pollution. Made for great sunsets, but the orange glow in the air (especially around lamp posts after dark) was … pretty interesting LOL!

    Also congrats on Slogbite!

    Diane Scotts last blog post..Allergy Free Dogs

  4. Linda Says:

    Hi Jean … Welcome and thank you. I am on my way to your site.

  5. Linda Says:

    Hi Diane … I believe that they are working on cleaning up their city in many ways. Including the golden sunsets. But hey, at least it is colorful!

    Thanks on the congrats and did you see the chuckle?

  6. lisleman Says:

    love Chicago – great city
    Have you posted about the green building roofs. I think Chicago leads the nation.

    lislemans last blog post..Grilled TARP CEO’s

  7. wilson Says:

    Love the ideas, Linda. The second picture looks a way better than the first one!

    wilsons last blog post..Your Body Type Determine Your Healthy Condition

  8. Mesothelioma Attorney operating in Cunningham, Wisconsin Says:

    […] Chicago’s Green Alleys | Forced Green […]

  9. Heath Says:

    That’s great common sense approach to helping out the environment. Very cool.

  10. Wind Says:

    What a great way for such a big city to take ‘green initiative’!


    p.s. you can delete this part of the comment if ya’ like…but, I nominated your blog for the Lemonade Award..

    Winds last blog post..What? Me? The Lemonade Award?

  11. Linda Says:

    Hi lisleman … Why sure! take a click of to here and enjoy!

  12. Linda Says:

    Hi Wilson … You betcha! It takes some work but the end result is excellent in so many ways!

  13. Linda Says:

    Hi Heath … I like it as well. Hopefully, a lot more cities that have alleys will jump on the bandwagon and convert theirs.

  14. Linda Says:

    Hi Wind … Chicago is working on going green in so many areas. Not only are the alleys being converted but they are green roofs as well.

    thank you for the nomination!

  15. Max Coutinho Says:

    Hello David,

    Congratulations for being today’s featured site at Slogbite :D!!!!

    Blogs like yours contribute immensely for the good health of our planet, so keep up the good job :D!


    Max Coutinhos last blog post..Democracy Vs Pseudo-Democracy

  16. Maureen Says:

    Very interesting article. I used to live in the city, on the north side. It’s great to hear about the green alley project. It sounds like this project could really make a difference– there are tons of allies!

    Maureens last blog post..Your New Online Business: Doesn’t Have to Be Costly or Time Consuming

  17. Linda Says:

    Hi Maureen … Yes, I heard that they have many many alleys. If they get them all, then things will change very rapidly for them for the better!

  18. Karen Sloan Says:

    Chicago is such a great city. Really nice to see them taking the initiative with the alley ways. There are many other cities who can learn from this, and hopefully follow.

    Karen Sloans last blog post..Count Down To ::Seedy Saturday:: Toronto ~ 15 Days!!

  19. Linda Says:

    Hi Karen … Me Too! I am hoping that city managers will take a hard look and implement some of these ideas in the yearly budget. Cheers!

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