Earlier this year, seven of the largest employers in Evanston launched a new initiative to support the City’s efforts to curb local impacts to climate change by forming the Evanston Green Ribbon Committee. The committee is comprised of representatives from the City of Evanston, Northwestern University, NorthShore Evanston Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, School District 65, School District 202 Evanston Township High School (ETHS) and Rotary International. The Evanston Green Ribbon Committee will work collaboratively on various strategies outlined in the Evanston Climate Action Plan.
Collectively, these entities represent one third of the Evanston workforce. The effort demonstrates the commitment of local leaders to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions and to seek innovative, high impact strategies to meet the targets outlined in the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, signed by the city in 2006. Working together increases each entity’s ability to leverage resources and influence behavioral change.
“As leaders of this community, we need to show we are willing to work collaboratively to find solutions,” said Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. “Meeting our greenhouse gas emissions reduction target is only going to happen if we all work together. If we are going to ask our residents and businesses to reduce their impact, then we need to show we are reducing ours as well.”
In addition to working community-wide to enact new policies and initiatives that reduce emissions, such as the recently passed Evanston Green Building Ordinance, the City of Evanston continues to take steps to reduce its own footprint by improving energy efficiency at its facilities, building to U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED standards, using B20 fuel to power its fleet and retrofitting street lights.
Each organization represented on the committee has also taken steps to reduce their impact. Energy efficiency improvements have earned Rotary International and several schools in School District 65 the Energy Star rating. Additionally, Northwestern’s most recent facility is LEED Silver Certified and both hospitals and ETHS are taking advantage of programs offered through ComEd and the State of Illinois to reduce energy at their facilities. Additionally, Northwestern is implementing a multi-million dollar energy conservation program throughout the campus and recycles 30% of its waste stream.
“With funding assistance from the State of Illinois, we replaced 15,000 lights with more efficient lamps and ballasts this spring, which will provide significant energy savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions for the high school,” explained Dr. Eric Witherspoon, Superintendent of District 202. “Participating in the Evanston Green Ribbon Committee provides us with an opportunity to do even more and be a leader in the community we serve.”
In addition to School District 65’s involvement with this committee, there is a district Greening/Sustainability Committee that promotes school and district efforts to reduce energy use and costs through thoughtful capital and life/safety improvements, classroom instruction, and energy monitoring.
The Evanston Green Ribbon Committee, which meets quarterly, has met twice now this year and is currently in the initial development stages of its first collaborative project.
In October 2006, the City of Evanston unanimously voted to sign the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, which calls on communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 7% below their 1990 levels by 2012.
In the fall of 2007, the City of Evanston completed a community-wide greenhouse gas emission inventory to determine its emission reduction target. The city then partnered with the Network for Evanston’s Future, a local coalition of citizens’ groups, to jointly develop a climate action plan.
Over the next year, hundreds of community members assisted in the development of the Evanston Climate Action Plan (ECAP), which contains over 200 strategies for meeting the city’s emissions reduction target. The ECAP was unanimously accepted by the City Council on November 10, 2008. Evanston is only one of two communities in Illinois to inventory its community-wide emissions and develop and adopt a climate action plan.
For a more information, visit www.cityofevanston.org/green.