When you think of green living space, solar panels, recycled materials and energy-efficient appliances typically come to mind. Perhaps the image of a contemporary, ultra-modern structure pops into your head, but most likely, a classic Chicago bungalow is the furthest thing from your thoughts.
These sturdy, brick designs were a popular architectural trend between 1910 and 1940, which is when most of Chicago’s existing bungalos were built. Characterized by low rooflines, second-story dormers, gables that run parallel with the street, bulky front porches, and charming stone or brick exterior embellishments, this residential style epitomizes historic Chicago housing yet has remained a desirable genre of real estate into the 21st Century.
For decades, bungalow homeowners have been taking special care to properly refurbish and preserve their properties without jeopardizing the integrity of the historic value. Organizations and government subsidies have even funded many of the restorations and provided tips and guidelines for making repairs and renovations. But now, with the world turning its eyes toward reversing the effects of the past and saving the environment for the future, the green movement has trickled into every aspect of our lives, including real estate. Whether it’s a brand new loft in downtown or a century-old bungalow in Oak Park, homeowners are taking an interest in the earth and conserving its natural resources.
It’s no surprise developers are jumping on the band wagon, building green condominiums and marketing new constructions as “eco-friendly.” But what is rather unexpected is the enthusiasm of groups such as the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association, which are encouraging people who live in the city’s traditional bungalows to “go green,” making changes to their homes that enhance energy efficiency, reduce carbon footprints and lower utility costs. In fact, grants worth thousands of dollars are being issued to help foot the bill for these state-of-the-art structural improvements. In addition, “green home kits” have been distributed to certain Chicago neighborhoods that provide bungalow owners with weatherization materials, a rain barrel, programmable thermostat and helpful guidebook.
As even Chicago’s most time-honored residences move into the new millennium with concern for our ecosystem and how modern society is affecting the environment, it is a refreshing and heartening sign that today’s homebuyers and builders are making steps in the right direction and taking a stand against the damaging impact our past has had on the world around us.