Mayor Richard M. Daley joined officials from the Department of Environment, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection and other partners at the Earth Day event at Daley Plaza in Downtown Chicago.
The Earth Day activities were aimed at engaging residents to become more conscious of the environment and acknowledge the various accomplishments of Chicago’s Climate Action Plan and its partners.
“In order to ensure the future sustainability of Chicago, we must all do our part,” said Mayor Daley. “Recognition of the importance of protecting the environment is a vital component of our strategy to increase our city’s quality of life along with attracting the jobs and the people needed to remain competitive in today’s global economy.”
During his tenure, Mayor Daley has worked with environmental leaders and various groups to remind residents that the protection of the environment benefits our entire society.
The Mayor and the City of Chicago have led the nation with innovative initiatives to make Chicago the most environmentally friendly city in the nation.
Chicago made a great statement in the unveiling of the Chicago Climate Action Plan in 2008, a comprehensive and detailed strategy to help lower greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change throughout the entire city.
The Mayor’s environmental focus goes back 20 years, other initiative include planting more than a half million trees; adding more than 1500 acres of new open space throughout the city; conserving 160 million gallons of water per day by fixing old infrastructure; installing more than 90 miles of landscaped medians; mandating the construction of environmentally friendly buildings; and, installing roof top gardens on city owned buildings.
Today’s Earth Day event highlights alternative fuel vehicles and features the Nissan LEAF, a new electric vehicle available in the market.
Representatives from the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection announced a grants program for the taxi industry that will help put more alternatively fueled vehicles on the road.
More than $1 million has been allocated towards this effort. Research has shown that 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Chicago are a result of transportation.
“The Green Taxi program provides an incentive to the taxi industry to reduce carbon emissions. Alternative fuel and hybrid taxis provide numerous benefits including lowering fuel costs for drivers and improved air quality,” said Norma I Reyes, Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. “The City of Chicago is committed to supporting these efforts and providing financial and operational incentives to offset the higher initial cost of these vehicles.”
The Chicago Transit Authority, FedEx, and United Airlines were also on hand to display their alternatively fueled vehicles.
“As Chicago’s hometown airline, United is exited to sponsor this great event to celebrate Earth Day,” said Alex Marren, United Airline’s Senior Vice President of System Operations Control and United Express. “At United, we are proud that we are doing our part to protect the environment, achieving a 32 percent fuel efficiency improvement since 1994 and continuing to focus in sustainability initiatives such as recycling in-flight and advancing alternative fuels for both our aircraft and our ground vehicles.”
Last February, the City announced its partnership with 350Green, LLC, to carry out the “Plug-In Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project.”
350Green -- which was selected in a competitive process -- will install, own and operate 73 DC fast-charging stations and 207 Level 2 stations for electric vehicles in the Chicago area.
One of those charging station was on display as one of the many Earth Day exhibits in Daley Plaza. Completion of the project is expected in late 2011.
Just this past year, the City of Chicago saved more than $5 million in energy costs as a result of the “Green Office Challenge,” which allows building owners and tenants to reduce their impact on the environment and meet the targeted goals that the city has introduced to reduce global warming.
“The Chicago Department of Environment and the Chicago Action Plan Team are proud to partner with many organizations across the city to show that everyone can take action to solve climate change and improve the quality of life in their communities,” said Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Environment.
“Events like this celebrate the City of Chicago’s progress over the last 20 years and shows that reducing our environmental footprint can be easy, fun and good for our economy.”
The City of Chicago has also:
- Used $17 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to create nearly 650 community-based green jobs for the hard-to-employ, including the formerly incarcerated over the next two years.
- Weatherized 7,000 homes through a collaborative effort of students, teachers and community leaders through the Chicago Conservation Corps Student Clubs and Chicago Conservation Corp Leaders.
- Passed a new anti-idling ordinance for diesel vehicles. The new idling limit will improve air quality and conserve fuel.
- Is listed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency among the top five cities in the nation in terms of the total number of Energy Star-rated buildings, both public and private.
- Saved more than $10 million by keeping more than 112,000 metric tons of waste out of landfills through the Waste to Profit Network -- a partnership of more than 300 area businesses, organizations, institutions and municipal departments.
Over the years, because of the efforts of the Chicago’s Climate Plan, the City of Chicago will help companies save money, enhance our quality of life and position the city and its residents for future economic growth and prosperity.
This plan also enables us to take advantage of new funding sources as they arise, as well as existing state and federal dollars, loans, grants and private contributions.
The Mayor also noted that Chicago is acknowledged as the national leader among cities in green roofs with 600 completed or underway totaling more than 7 million square feet. The City requires green roofs to be installed on buildings of developers who receive economic assistance from the city.
The Daley Center, where today’s event was held has achieved Energy Star status. Chicago now has 88 LEED certified buildings – 32 of which are city-owned. Chicago leads the nation -- by a two-to-one margin -- in LEED certified municipal buildings.
The Mayor said everybody can make our environment healthier doing things inside and outside of their homes.
“Remember to drive less and walk more often. Use more energy-efficient light bulbs and insulate and weatherize your home. Turn off appliances and computers when they’re not in use and plant trees and shrubs around buildings to reduce temperatures. And please, use public transportation more frequently,” added the Mayor.