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Alternative, renewable forms of energy are becoming more prevalent in our daily lives, from wind turbines to geo-thermal systems to photovoltaics on our rooftops. However, most of us have little idea how to take the next step and adopt renewable energy as the way to heat and light our dwellings. The Evanston Green Living Festival aims to help us get there. The theme of this year’s festival is “Aternative Energy — You’ve Got the Power.”

Between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 24, the Evanston Environmental Association, in concert with the City of Evanston, will stage the fifth annual free festival at the Evanston Ecology Center and adjacent Ladd Arboretum. The Ecology Center is the City’s long-running destination for all things green and is located at 2024 McCormick Boulevard, in the heart of Evanston.
 
Festival co-chair Fred Schneider explains this year’s focus on renewable energy as “consistent with Evanston’s goal of reducing greenhouse gases. As citizens and homeowners, we have to begin to explore the options available to us when it comes to our sources of energy. For many of us, learning how to make our homes, schools, and workplaces more energy efficient is a good start. For others, making the decision to transform the places we live, work, and play into buildings powered by renewable energy is the next step. This year’s festival is designed to help all of us get to a future powered by renewable energy.”
 
Festival co-chair Rick Nelson sees another role that the 2011 Festival hopes to play: “According to Illinois energy statistics, 95% of all electricity generated in Illinois and serving its 13 million residents comes from just two sources: coal and nuclear power. Another goal of the 2011 festival is to motivate citizens to support practices and advocate for policies that lead to the adoption of renewable energy in our communities.”
 
A keynote panel presentation titled “The Energy Game — Getting to the Promised Land of Renewable Energy” will include Ashley Craig of the Environmental Law and Policy Center; Jason La Fleur, an expert with the USGBC/Illinois Green Building Committee; and Brandon Leavitt, founder of the longest-running solar energy company in the area, Solar Service. A new addition to this year’s festival is the Green Silent Auction, featuring products and services from a variety of green businesses and organizations. All auction proceeds will go towards support of the Evanston Ecology Center.
 
This year’s festival is bringing together a large group of people offering a wide range of alternative energy products, services, and expertise that can help turn all of our homes and communities into more sustainable places. Wind turbine demonstrations, solar energy exhibits, and even bicycle energy are just some of the renewable energy options for festival-goers to experience. The Green Market will have exhibits by nearly 100 area businesses and organizations engaged in everything from composting to green design, eco-insulation and organic gardening.
 
Offerings for the whole family include green activities and crafts just for children. Visitors can also drop off their used CFL bulbs to be recycled. Enticing food and refreshments will be offered by Evanston’s notable entry into the “food truck” business, the Hummingbird Kitchen. The public is urged to bus, walk or bike to the festival, where bikes can be securely parked at the free bike corral. Free rickshaw rides and electric cars will add some fun while demonstrating alternative forms of transportation.
 
According to festival co-chair Dave Cook, “the 2011 Evanston Green Living Festival is fortunate to be sponsored by a group of committed businesses and organizations including The Archer Patterson Family Foundation, Pace (Suburban Bus Service), CUB Energy Saver, I-Go Car Sharing, Northwestern University/ISEN, Whole Foods/Evanston North, NICOR Energy Efficiency Program, Renewal by Anderson, and WinSol Power Company.”

Additional information is available at www.evanstongreenfest.org or by calling the Ecology Center at 847-448-8256.