ECAP Progress Requires ‘Broad Participation’

Editor:

Recently Carolyn Collopy, the City’s sustainability coordinator, made a presentation to the City Council about progress on the City’s sustainability efforts.  One media account characterized her report as “Climate Action Plan Flounders.” Members of Citizens for a Greener Evanston (CGE) believe this conveys a rather misleading impression of the current state of efforts to reduce Evanston’s carbon footprint.  Ms. Collopy acknowledged in her presentation that the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions due to actions by the City represent only a small percentage of the original target set by the plan.  However, the fact that much remains to be done to achieve the emissions reduction goal does not negate the many positive actions and important initiatives that the City, CGE, and other organizations have taken and are continuing to take.

For example: earlier this year the Council passed a Green Buildings Ordinance that requires LEED certification on new construction above 10,000 square feet.  As construction picks up in Evanston, this ordinance will promote the building of more energy-efficient structures. 

More recently, the Council approved the preparation of a Request for Information concerning a windfarm development in Lake Michigan.  This initiative, which originated with a CGE taskforce, is only a first step in what will be a long-term project; however, it would not only provide the community with enough electricity to power approximately 40,000 homes, it would also make a major reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions attributable to local residential and commercial energy usage. 

The City has established a Residential Weatherization Grant Program.

The City is an Energy Star Partner and a WaterSense Partner.

The City and CGE have launched several programs to provide free compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) to residents and businesses.

Leveraging the City’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, the City is installing a 25 kW solar panel system at the Water Treatment Plant, solar thermal installations at Fire Stations 1 & 2, a lighting retrofit at Church Street Garage, and a street light retrofit project.

Working with Commonwealth Edison, Evanston businesses and not-for-profits have received over $200,000 in energy-efficiency incentives.

The City and CGE work cooperatively with the Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) and others at NU to sponsor sustainability events that involve the Northwestern University community and the broader Evanston community.

CGE works with the City and others to distribute sustainability information, reduce waste at summer festivals, meet with condo associations to explain steps to improve energy-efficiency, prepare information sheets on steps home-owners can take to improve energy-efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

What Evanstonians need to understand is that without broad participation in the various ways of reducing our community’s carbon footprint, the Climate Action Plan will not attain its goals.  Mobilizing the community is a major challenge.  Making Evanston greener is a long-term project that must be promoted in many different ways and venues.  To focus narrowly on estimates of emissions reductions in the early years of this effort misrepresents the progress that has been made.

–Elliot Zashin and Toni McMahon, Citizens for a Greener Evanston Steering Committee

Reader Favors Cameras

Editor:

I personally think [surveillance cameras in Evanston] is an excellent idea. It is an added security and should offend no one but malevolent people.  Stop making things difficult for some of us.

–Danielle R. Pickard