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The community agenda for the not-for-profit group Citizens’ Greener Evanston builds on its mission and its past accomplishments, CGE officials said at the May 1 Earth Month celebration at Beth Emet Synagogue. CGE’s mission is “to conserve and protect our natural resources,” CGE president Ron Fleckman told an audience of some 60 persons.
Describing the community agenda and how the ideas could be implemented, Christopher Hart said CGE is “interested in finding ways to make meaningful, sustainable changes” in people’s daily lives. The agenda has five parts, many of which already have a start in the community: substantially improving energy-efficiency of housing; educating the community on sustainable practices; developing an innovative, integrated community transportation plan; promoting the economics of collaborative communities within Evanston; and developing innovative approaches for renewable energy. “People will rally to a cause when they feel it is about them,” Mr. Hart said.
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl acknowledged the work of CGE and of BASE, the Business Association for a Sustainable Evanston, and gave a report on Evanston’s progress toward achieving the goals of the Evanston Climate Action Plan: “As a community we’ve initiated or completed 115 of the strategies outlined in the climate action plan. … We’re reducing our carbon footprint.”
The City has eliminated diesel-consuming vehicles from its fleet and “right-sized” the number of vehicles in it, the Mayor said. The fleet service has reduced emissions by 14 percent. Community-wide, in 2010 there was a 2 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, she said. She added, though, that there has not been a community-wide reduction in the use of passenger vehicles.
In the area of public transportation, there is the expectation that the CTA will replace three viaducts. In addition, the City is installing bicycle racks across the City. “We are also promoting electric vehicles and will soon be installing plug-ins for electric cars in the downtown garages,” she said.
Energy-efficiency in housing was helped by a federal grant of about $700,000 – with which the City leveraged another $300,000 in state and federal money. The grant was used for lighting upgrades, weatherization, efforts to promote the use of tap water rather than bottled water and promoting alternative modes of transportation, the Mayor said.
Mayor Tisdahl recently appointed a committee to analyze responses to the City’s request for companies to construct a wind farm in Lake Michigan, about seven miles offshore. Senator Jeff Schoenberg and Representative Robyn Gabel are “looking into the legality of putting windmills into the lake,” she said. After the tsunami and earthquake that triggered a nuclear power-plant crisis in Japan, many legislators in Springfield “were excited to be doing something as progressive as putting windmills in the lake.