31st St. Harbor Wins ISS Fabien Cousteau Blue Award


The Chicago Park District and its harbor manager, Westrec Marinas, were awarded the International Superyacht Society (ISS) Fabien Cousteau Blue Award for Chicago’s 31st St. Harbor, the world’s most energy efficient and green marina.

The ISS Fabien Cousteau Blue Award celebrates stewardship of marine ecosystems.  Environmental leadership, global oceanic conservation and resource preservation are prerequisites for nomination.  The integration of environmental technologies and resource management with the goal of setting achievable standards and models for wide adaptation in the design, engineering and building of large yachts—and the use of the Earth’s waterways—are essential criteria.  Nominations are made by owners and the yachting industry; selection is by a panel of judges, including Fabien Cousteau.

“The 31st St. Harbor is a forward-thinking, world class facility that was built with sustainability in mind,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly.  “The response from boaters and park users has been fantastic.”

“On behalf of Westrec and the Chicago Park District, we want to thank Fabien Cousteau and the International Superyacht Society for this prestigious award,” said Scott Stevenson, Executive Vice President of Westrec Marinas.  “We view 31st St. Harbor as a model for sustainability in our industry.”

Chicago is home to the largest harbor system in the U.S., and 31st St. Harbor opened as the 10th and newest in May 2012.  The newly developed area is adjacent to 31st St. Beach and features numerous amenities for the neighborhood, including a state-of-art playground as well as green space.

The development embraces environmental and social sustainability, designed to achieve a minimum LEED Silver certification.  With a community focus, the project includes a 3/4-acre green space, a 63,300-square foot accessible green roof, a great lawn, a fully accessible play area and a community room.

A harbor services building and attached parking garage were built atop former surface lots.  A geothermal heating system helps achieve a 33% energy use reduction.  The green roof reduces impervious surface, storm water runoff and the heat island effect.  Additional environmental benefits were achieved through enhanced refrigerant management, low flow plumbing fixtures (with a 63% water savings overall and 40.4% in building water savings), sensored lighting and delighting in 100% of the occupied spaces.

Native plantings reduce maintenance and irrigation demands.  Improved pedestrian and vehicular circulation enhances connections to adjacent neighborhoods, while the green roof and the infill park 500 feet off the shoreline provide exceptional views of the lake and skyline.

The $103 million harbor was funded entirely by boater fees, and not tax payer dollars, expanding upon recreation and leisure opportunities for the surrounding community.  In addition, it offers a beautiful green public space with shaded picnic areas, as well as an innovative playground that boasts a climbing wall and public art. 

31st St. Harbor features 1,000 floating slips, which will reduce the wait list for a slot at one of Chicago’s harbors.  The new harbor has room for boats that measure up to 200 feet, and the slips have power, water and cable TV. 

Additional amenities include a fuel dock; indoor parking garage with heated winter boat storage; public fishing dock; public parking on Fort Dearborn plus a remote parking lot; launch ramp; and a huge rubble mound breakwater.

The massive breakwater stretches more than 3,000 feet with an opening to the southeast.  The breakwater is constructed of stones, some weighing as much as 18 tons, and was engineered to protect the harbor from waves as tall as 35 feet.  The new breakwater protected the harbor from the recent harsh conditions due to Hurricane Sandy.

The new harbor also creates valuable habitat for marine organisms, particularly fish.  Under the new breakwater, a culvert was designed to increase circulation and to create a “fish highway” similar to a feature of Burnham Harbor, a mile north of 31st Street.  Additionally, a number of trees were submerged along a section of the breakwater to attract fish.

About International Superyacht Society

ISS was founded in 1989 and represents the large yacht industry. Its fundamental mission is to build alliances worldwide with regional associations; to serve as communications conduit for issues affecting the marketplace, owners, crew and industry members; and to recognize achievement as well as provide educational opportunities and networking events.

Each year ISS presents its peer-reviewed Design and Leadership Awards, which recognize individuals and companies for their expertise, leadership and dedication to raising the standards of design, construction, maintenance, repair and operation of large yachts.

About ISS Awards of Distinction

ISS Awards of Distinction nominations come from the yachting industry and yachting public.  While many are familiar with the organization’s design awards that celebrate achievement in superyacht engineering and style, ISS equally celebrates personal triumph from crew to the corporate office for ocean stewardship.  ISS is A 501 (c) 6 non-profit organization dedicated to recognizing achievement in the global superyacht industry.

About the Chicago Park District

For more information about the Chicago Park District’s more than 8,100 acres of parkland, 580 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 10 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, 10 bird and wildlife gardens, thousands of special events, sports and entertaining programs please contact the Chicago Park District at 312/742.PLAY or 312/747.2001 (TTY). Want to share your talent? Volunteer in the parks by calling 312/742.PLAY.

About Westrec Marinas

As the world's largest owner operator of marinas and marine-related businesses, Westrec Marinas provides professional management services to its properties, affiliates and clients throughout the world.  Founded in 1987, Westrec manages marina facilities located both in fresh and salt water environments, handling vessels ranging in size from personal watercraft to megayachts.  Solutions unique to Westrec have been incorporated into our corporate philosophy throughout Westrec's rapid growth. Service, our most important product, has remained unchanged since day one.


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