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Breakwater Chicago LLC has written a Sustainability Plan in fulfillment of its corporate mission statement which guides the project to create a vessel that is “truly at harmony with its environment.”  The co-founders of the company have a personal passion for the environment and have set the following list of priorities to be observed during design, construction, and operation of the Breakwater Chicago vessel:


1. Help control nutrient levels in the waters of Lake Michigan


2. Highlight water conservation techniques and technologies


3. Utilize renewable energy wherever possible to reduce fossil fuel consumption


4. Follow LEED standards wherever possible to ensure efficient design


5. Employ energy-efficient technologies and systems in all facets of design


6. Create a recycling program that pushes past the traditional blue bins


In order to ensure that Breakwater Chicago LLC has optimized its ability to design, build, and operate the Breakwater Chicago vessel in the most efficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly manner possible, the co-founders of Breakwater Chicago LLC are in the process of enlisting the help of a group of local experts by assembling the “Breakwater Sustainability Committee.” This Sustainability Committee will be asked to provide guidance to the leadership and design teams of Breakwater Chicago LLC, with regard to its mission, this Sustainability Plan, and the overall Breakwater Chicago project. It is critical to set the sustainability tone for this project early, so that it remains a cornerstone of the overall strategy. As the company looks to deliver similar concepts in international markets, the co-founders of Breakwater Chicago LLC plan to carry this Sustainability Plan with them to future locations as well. Therefore, the Breakwater Sustainability Committee and the associated Sustainability Plan will create a message that not only benefits the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois, but also benefits cities and countries around the world.

Coutesy of Floating Island Southeast

The fertilizers that we use on our lawns, gardens, and fields to promote healthy plant growth similarly spur algae growth in lakes when carried there in runoff water. Nutrients also reach lakes via untreated sewage discharges and the use of phosphorus-based home detergents. High levels of nutrients promote algae which, in turn, can foul beaches, clog water intakes, harbor salmonella, kill fish, and even produce toxins that sicken people. One way that we can help control these high levels of unnatural nutrients is by installing our revolutionary GreenHull™ system on the bottom of our vessel. This underwater garden acts like green roofs on top of buildings, only instead of absorbing CO² from the air, our plants will be absorbing potentially dangerous nutrients from the water, thus improving the conditions of Lake Michigan.


The Great Lakes supply drinking water to some 40 million people in the Midwest, and they are important resources for the future of the United States and Canada. Unfortunately, with the perception that an endless supply of water exists in the Great Lakes, residents and businesses in these areas feel little pressure to practice water conservation, as has become critical in most other parts of the world. Our vessel will be designed for highly efficient water usage and will become a prime example of the techniques and technologies that businesses and homeowners should consider for their own usage. Technologies such as low-flow fixtures, waterless urinals, two-stage flushing toilets, grey-water recycling, and rain harvesting are just a few of the examples planned for use at the Breakwater Chicago vessel.



Coutesy of Oregon State University


Finite resources such as fossil fuels have exposed a weakness in our nation’s economy, and the use of fossil fuels has contributed greatly to climate change and air pollution. According to the EPA, the burning of fossil fuels was responsible for 79% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. Illinois ranked fifth among the states in the highest consumption of coal, one of the dirtiest fossil fuels to use; and it ranked sixth among states with the highest emission of carbon dioxide. Breakwater Chicago will use renewable energy systems to reduce its consumption of fossil fuel, including such technologies as solar photovoltaic, solar water heating, aqua thermal cooling, and potentially even kinetic wave power (image left). Some systems on board our vessel will require the use of traditional fuels, and in those cases, we are dedicated to using the greatest amount of biodiesel and other biofuels possible to maintain a small ecological footprint.


The US Green Building Council’s LEED program, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, will be followed during the design and construction of Breakwater Chicago.  Even though we are developing a vessel and not a building, LEED standards provide a great deal of guidance on ways to minimize our impact on the environment. While USGBC has not awarded LEED Certification to a vessel, we have been informed by the Council that, if we are able to achieve the appropriate number of points on their scale, we could be awarded certification and become the first floating LEED Certified project anywhere in the world.            

Coutesy of Jonnathan McForian



Improving energy efficiency is one of the most constructive and cost-effective ways to address the challenges of high energy prices, energy security and independence, air pollution, and global climate change. In 2008, Americans saved more than $19 billion and avoided greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 29 million cars through choices they made with energy-saving measures. The Breakwater Chicago vessel will be designed with energy-efficiency as one of the focal points, given the impact that reducing energy consumption can have on every other facet of this Sustainability Plan. For example, by capturing the exhaust heat from our generator systems, our vessel can lower its overall energy demands by utilizing what would otherwise be wasted heat.  This heat can then be used in a process called trigeneration, or the combining of heating, cooling, and electrical generation such that wasted heat from one process is used to feed another.




Recycling programs have become a standard feature in most businesses and households, yet these traditional “blue bin” programs barely scratch the surface. While recycling has decreased the amount of trash sent to landfills by 32% in the U.S. since 2003, the amount of garbage generated per year is on a steady climb and is currently estimated between 250 and 400 million tons per year. The average American produces 475 pounds of food waste per year alone, or a whopping total of 70+ million tons in total, which is the third largest component of garbage sent to landfills by weight. Operations at Breakwater Chicago will be guided by a strict recycling program that not only captures easily recycled materials such as cardboard, glass, metals, and plastic, but we will also have a process to capture and recycle food waste as well.

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