Red Hot Condo Development Goes Green

The EcoLogic Lofts, a new Bucktown residential building, make eco-living chic

You've seen the signs near the intersection of Damen and Fullerton avenues. The EcoLogic Lofts complex, a new seven-story condo development in the Bucktown neighborhood, is employing innovative, of-the-moment building practices to achieve the coveted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) Silver Certification label while offering residents easy ways to be more eco-aware in their day-to-day living environments.

Just some of the earth-friendly amenities offered at EcoLogic Lofts, which feature 94 one- and two-bedroom units, include wind turbines on the roof to generate nearly two percent of the building's power, a green roof garden, energy-efficient plumbing and lighting fixtures, clean indoor air systems, reduced-mercury lighting and recycling stations set up throughout the property. 

John Robert Wiltgen, a Chicago-based award-winning interior designer, used a plethora of recycled goods when decorating the model unit of the EcoLogic Lofts complex, such as recycled bike tires that were made into a plush rug, throw pillows constructed out of a man's old Versace cashmere coat and wallpaper created out of cut-up fashion magazines. Wiltgen, who is inspired by fashion runways, offers some tricks of the trade when reusing or recycling old materials (rather than rushing out and buying all new stuff -- so bad for your eco-karma) to give your home some new life:

Keep things simple: "A monochromatic color scheme always makes a room more elegant and upscale looking," Wiltgen says. "White (like in the EcoLogic model unit) is very clean and bright, while ivory, creams and beiges can be more traditional. Grey, stone and silver tones can become rather Gothic."

Do your homework: Says Wiltgen: "In this day and age, it is easier than ever to be well informed. Editorials about the environment and eco-friendly living are everywhere." He also keeps his eyes open for what's going on in the design world: "We try really hard to think outside of the box. What has not been done again and again and again? If you've already seen it, we won't do it."

Staying power: "I think that this [eco-friendly] approach is here to stay for first-time home buyers and people who are on a budget," says Wiltgen. "You can get a much more original decor if you are willing to wait until you find the perfect piece, and remember that the piece might need work."

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