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Sustainability

Towards a model of sustainability

Chicago’s Navy Pier has undertaken a major redevelopment project to reinvent 50 acres of urban lakefront as a spectacular global destination and model of sustainability that will improve the health and vitality of the local community.

The design, by renowned architecture firm James Corner Field Operations, puts the latest in ecological principles and environmental best management practices to work — transforming Navy Pier’s outdoor landscape into a more vibrant setting for recreation and social life.

A new emphasis on clarity, activity and views is intended to encourage movement, exploration, interaction and discovery. The resulting green oasis invites guests to escape the hard edges of the city and enjoy unfettered views of the majestic open waters of Lake Michigan in a more natural setting.

Enjoying Nature at Navy Pier
SouthView Aerial Dusk

Sustainable Operations

NPI is implementing a 30-year Sustainable Master Plan for Navy Pier that focuses Navy Pier’s efforts to reduce its environmental footprint on target areas of energy, water, waste, transportation and community. Navy Pier has formed a Sustainability Advisory Group and a Sustainability Working Group comprised of civic leaders, sustainability experts, environmental professionals, non-profit board members and staff to help implement the Plan.

Navy Pier Greenery

Sustainable SITES Initiative™

Many of Navy Pier’s sustainable design concepts are based around a set of best practices for sustainable landscape and site design known as the Sustainable SITES Initiative™ Navy Pier aspires to achieve a rating for several phases of redevelopment through this new accreditation system lead by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden.

The Crystal Gardens at night with the Wheel glowing in the background

Sustainable Design Elements

A new stormwater management system improves the quality of our stormwater runoff and controls its volume. It does this by capturing and filtering it through permeable pavement made of recycled concrete and locally-sourced aggregate; tree tubs planted with locally-sourced trees; and landscaped areas made up of native plantings. Stormwater is then retained in an underground cistern for reuse as irrigation.

On the surface, social seating areas with benches made from reclaimed wood and recycled steel fill the South Dock.

Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion

Sustainability Certified

In 2020, Navy Pier was awarded the Silver Certification by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for its innovative, ecological and environmental best management practices in the Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion and South Arcade. The Pier’s energy-efficient modifications with the use of LED lighting and sustainable design elements of the recently renovated Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion and South Arcade have earned it a silver-level LEED certification, a mark of quality and achievement in green building.

Green Partners

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Navy Pier has been awarded a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Coastal Management Program via the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to support the installation of tree tubs as part of the stormwater management system.

RetroFit Chicago Commercial Building Initiative

Navy Pier has partnered with the Mayor’s Office and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group to help Chicago meet city-wide energy goals and battle climate change by pledging to become an efficiency leader and implementing cutting-edge retrofits that will reduce energy use by 20% over the next five years. 

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Navy Pier is engaged with DCEO’s Smart Energy Design Assistance Center and to help find ways to improve the efficiency of Navy Pier’s operating systems. Navy Pier has been approved to receive incentives from several of DCEO’s Energy Now! programs to retrofit and install new equipment that will improve the facility’s efficiency and lower energy costs.

Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation

Navy Pier has been approved to receive incentives from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to implement several energy consumption reduction measures. 

MidWest Energy Alliance STEP Program

Navy Pier will be receiving a supply of commercial pre-rinse sprayers and high-performance aerators free of charge as part of the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance STEP program. These green products will help Navy Pier reach its goal of becoming a more energy efficient facility by reducing water usage and heating and sewer costs.

Beehives at Navy Pier

Something's buzzing

Honey bees are the Pier’s newest residents, occupying two hives on the People's Energy Welcome Pavilion's green roof. The Chicago Honey Co-op help maintain the hives and keep the bees happy.

Bees and other pollinators are responsible for 35% of our global food supply, so supporting them is really important. Their presence at the Pier helps bolster their numbers while making our green spaces vibrant.

So next time you’re passing through, pay a visit to our friendly, local pollinators – they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them!

About Navy Pier

More Than You Imagine

Navy Pier is the People’s Pier, Chicago’s lakefront treasure, welcoming all and offering dynamic and eclectic experiences through partnerships and programs that inspire discovery and wonder.

Since its reopening in 1995, more than 180 million guests have come to enjoy the Pier's 50 acres of unparalleled attractions and experiences. In 2020, Navy Pier continues to evolve into an accessible, year-round centerpiece for Chicago’s diverse arts and cultural treasures.


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Navy Pier

600 E. GRAND AVENUE
CHICAGOIL 60611
1-800 595-PIER (7437)

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