Jennifer Smith, left, of LiveRoof explains details of the green roof of the new First Bank & Trust of Evanston building at Dempster Street and Crawford Avenue in Skokie. Evanston architect Joe Behles, second from left, of Behles + Behles, with Jay Lytle managing director of FBTE and Luann Stemple donned hard hats to show visitors around the construction site. Ms. Stempel, an assistant vice president of the bank, will manage the new branch.

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The latest branch of First Bank & Trust of Evanston is green. Located in Skokie on the site of a former gasoline station, the building, designed by the Evanston firm Behles + Behles, is designed and being constructed according to the Leadership in Energy and Efficient Design (LEED) standards of the U.S. Green Building Council. Amid what might have seemed to be construction chaos on Oct. 3, architect Joe Behles happily offered visitors, including the media, a tour of the site, on the southwest corner of Dempster Street and Crawford Avenue in Skokie.

The building will have fully integrated geo-thermal heat, Mr. Behles said, through pipes that bore 475 feet into the earth and circulate the water through four loops to cool the building in the summer and heat it in the winter. “Geothermal heat is expensive to put in,” he said “but efficient and simple to operate.”

Much of the recyclable material from the demolished former building may return, Mr. Behles said – concrete can be crushed and reused. “New” carpeting and tiles are made of recycled materials, and, said Jay Lytle, managing director of First Bank & Trust, “we try to buy everything within 500 miles of here.” And on top, there will be a 2,200-square-foot “living roof” with low-maintenance plants – echinacea, rudbeckia and sedum, as examples.

The steel is recycled, and the wood, Forest Service Certified – that is, made with trees that are replaced, not just leaving a bare swath of ground. In addition to being constructed of recyclable or recycled materials, Mr. Behles said the building itself is designed to be recycled – “so that in 50 years if they want to build a new building,” things will be set. He said the new branch bank, will be open before December.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...