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The City of Evanston hosted the Winter meeting of the Big Ten City Managers group on Jan. 27 and 28. The Big Ten City Managers group is made up of the City Managers of the six cities with the Council-Manager form of government that host Big Ten Conference universities (Evanston, IL; Champaign, IL; State College, PA; Ann Arbor, MI; East Lansing, MI; and Iowa City, IA). Each meeting is focused around an issue facing communities and representatives from all twelve Big Ten Conference cities and universities are invited to attend.

The subject of the Winter meeting was sustainability issues and eight of the twelve communities/universities sent representatives to Evanston to participate in the meeting. In addition to the six City Manager communities and their universities, representatives from Urbana, IL; Bloomington/Indiana University and Lincoln/University of Nebraska also participated.

Each community and university made presentations about their separate and joint sustainability projects. The meeting also included a roundtable discussion of best practices. Evanston/Northwestern University was represented by City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, Evanston Sustainable Programs Coordinator Catherine Hurley and Northwestern Manager of Refuse and Recycling Julie Cahillane.

Both Ms. Hurley and Ms. Cahillane gave a joint presentation on Evanston/Northwestern efforts. There was much interest in the implementation of the Evanston Climate Action Plan (many other Big Ten communities are just now moving to create such a plan), the many community environment/sustainability organizations in Evanston and at Northwestern and the early success of the City’s Green Building Ordinance and the focus Northwestern has had on building LEED certified buildings long before the Evanston Green Building Ordinance.

Some of the programs presented by other communities of particular interest to Evanston/Northwestern were the expansion of self-service car rentals in the community, greater emphasis of recycling during student move outs each Spring, continued publicity of the City and University recycling programs and the development of a community-wide sustainability challenge program involving residents and businesses.

The sustainability directors of the universities in the Big Ten have an existing network and many of the sustainability directors in the cities are part of larger municipal networks for dialogue. This meeting was the first time that both groups have met together to exchange ideas and have promised to continue the sharing after the meetings concluded.