New York saw a smog-eating sculpture come to MoMA’s PS1 this summer, and now this street in Chicago cleans pollution from the air. Located in the Pilsen neighborhood, the “Greenest Street in America” can divert stormwater to prevent sewers from overflowing and can clean the road surface using photocatalytic cement. Chicago Department of Transportation commissioner Gabe Klein said:
This project demonstrates a full range of sustainable design techniques that improve the urban ecosystem, promote economic development, increase the safety and usability of streets for all users, and build healthy communities. It provides both mitigation and adaptation strategies by reducing its carbon footprint and integrating technologies that allow the infrastructure to address and adapt to climate change.
The Cermak/Blue Island sustainable streetscape features the first commercial roadway application of photocatalytic cement, which cleans the surface of the street and removes nitrogen oxide gases from the surrounding air through a catalytic reaction driven by UV light. The project is also diverting up to 80% of the typical average annual rainfall from the combined sewer through a combination of bioswales, rain gardens, permeable pavements, and stormwater features.