Overshadowed by the excitement surrounding the proposed wind farm in Lake Michigan, City staff delivered a report billed “a general update on implementation of [the City’s] Climate Action Plan.” The news was not good, as Evanston has attained only 7 percent of the goals it set for itself to achieve by 2012 and emissions are actually growing, according to sustainability coordinator Carolyn Collopy.
Ms. Collopy highlighted some of the 200 strategies in the Climate Action Plan that her office had been working to achieve. Given the lack of realistic progress toward the 2012 emissions goal, however, she admitted that the City was looking beyond 2012.
Initiatives included the ComEd Community Energy Challenge program “Smart Ideas for Your Business.” ComEd set aside $350,000 for Evanston businesses to use in “going green.” “We unfortunately did not get to spend all that money,” said Ms. Collopy, as businesses did not apply. According to City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz’s blog, businesses may have been confused as to the initiative. The program, apparently, was not well publicized and funding was lost.
ComEd also offers a refrigerator and freezer exchange program, said Ms. Collopy. Under the program, run by ComEd, ComEd will pick up an inefficient refrigerator or freezer, haul it away, and pay the resident $25 per appliance. According to ComEd’s website, older refrigerators use up to five times as much electricity as newer models and replacing them can save consumers up to $150 per year in utility costs.
Ms. Collopy pointed to the changing of light bulbs in parking garages to more efficient energy consumers as a significant change. The LED holiday light exchange, in which the City swapped out 70 total strands of holiday lights brought in by residents for more efficient LED holiday light strands, was also seen as a success.
All told, Ms. Collopy said, the City leveraged under $200,000 in outside funds to make improvements and help meet the goals of the Climate Action Plan. A new Evanston “Green Ribbon Committee,” made up of business and Northwestern leaders, has been established and held its first meeting in March. Ms. Collopy hopes it will discuss green possibilities in quarterly meetings.
The Green Living Festival, held at the Evanston Ecology Center and hosted by the Evanston Environmental Association in collaboration with the Ecology Center Staff, was another success according to Ms. Collopy. Likewise, the Streets and Sanitation Department’s acquisition of larger recycling bins made possible, in part, by a state Energy and Efficiency Conservation Block Grant, helped implement the CAP’s goals.
“We’re making progress; we’re doing our best,” said Ms. Collopy. But she acknowledged that the City is “still a long way from our goal. Seven percent of that 2012 goal is not much.