Environment

Greener, cleaner, more sustainable communities.

Chicago has earned a reputation as one of the world’s greenest cities. But there is still much more that we must do to protect our environment, save our lake and keep our air clean and healthy.

Chicago Climate Action Plan

I strongly support the Chicago Climate Action Plan, which has set an ambitious but reachable goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% within the next five years.

The Chicago Climate Action Plan outlines five workable strategies to meet that goal:

  • Make Chicago buildings more energy-efficient
  • Increase our use of clean, renewable energy sources
  • Improve public transportation options to reduce dependence on cars
  • Cut waste and industrial pollution
  • Adapt to environmental changes by protecting air and water resources and preserving plants and trees

Expanding Local Green Energy Sources

By expanding the green economy, we create good, new jobs in Chicago while protecting our environment. So, we need to build more renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar – and we need to create incentives to buy the green power they produce.

To help grow our green energy industry, I support a requirement that, by 2020, all power supply companies bidding on contracts for municipal buildings and city residents must buy at least 25% of that electricity from local renewable energy projects.

Protecting Our Water Supply, for Everyone

Lake Michigan is an incredible asset that has provided our city with clean, fresh drinking water for many, many years. To protect that invaluable resource for today’s residents and for future generations, I would support an ordinance that would ban any attempts to privatize Chicago’s water supply.

Smart Growth

True community sustainability requires environmental awareness AND a healthy economy. As your Second Ward Alderman, I will be a leader in promoting smart development policies that will make our neighborhoods more vital, healthy, and livable, such as:

  • Efficient land development that makes the most of existing infrastructure investments;
  • More green spaces that will add beauty to our neighborhoods and reduce storm runoff that can flood our basements, overwhelm our sewer systems, and degrade our water quality;
  • Incentives for thoughtful development that make good use of green roofs, permeable pavement systems and other innovative green improvements. Green roofs will also help manage and reduce the impact of storm runoff; and
  • Expanding bike lanes and trails to allow Chicagoans to commute safely using pedal power – thus reducing the use of cars and the greenhouse emissions that come with them. This will be especially true for the west side of the ward where bike commuter culture is firmly entrenched and thriving. (Fun fact: from spring to fall nearly 1,000 people a day commute to work by bike using Milwaukee Avenue – a major thoroughfare that cuts right through the western neighborhoods in the Second Ward!)

Urban Farms

Another fun fact: during World War II, Chicago’s Victory Gardens were a model for the nation. By 1943, there were more than 170,000 Victory Gardens scattered across the city, producing 55,000 pounds of fresh, healthy food.[1]

Today, we can draw on that proud heritage by creating a new kind of “victory garden” – urban farms that can bring healthy produce to food deserts, provide farm-to-table options for local restaurants, and create green oases in the heart of the city. As your Alderman, I will encourage the development of community gardens not only for environmental purposes, but also to bring neighbors together. Additionally, as a matter of city policy, I will work to encourage the city to use its power to educate residents about buying local and encouraging sustainability. Urban farms, whether big or small, can become focal points for urban pride, giving children a chance for hands-on education about farming and nutrition, reminding all of us of our city’s great agricultural heritage, and promoting sustainable habits that benefit Chicago and planet earth.

Green Roofs

Cities are usually hotter than surrounding rural areas because buildings and pavements absorb heat during the day and radiate it at night. This “urban heat island effect” can make Chicago residents miserable in the summer, making our homes too hot for sleep and sending cooling costs soaring.

Green roofs are a powerful weapon against urban heat islands, keeping buildings and neighborhoods cooler and saving energy. For example, thanks to the green plants that soak up heat on City Hall’s world-famous green roof, taxpayers save about $3,600 in air conditioning costs for the building each year.[2]

Right now, Chicago has more green roofs than any other American city, covering about 5.5 million square feet. (That includes the 25 acres of Millennium Park – considered the world’s largest green roof, since it covers parking garages and a theater.) But we can do even better.

As your Second Ward Alderman, I will work to create new incentives for green roofs on new and existing buildings, making it easier for businesses and homeowners to save the environment – and save money, too.

[1] http://forevervictorygardens.com/about/what-are-victory-gardens-our-history-and-mission/

[2] http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/climate-change-july-dec12-climate_10-09/