December 6, 2013

Mayor Emanuel Announces Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda Makes Significant Progress in Year One

City Marks Several Key Accomplishments on 24 Set Goals; One Third of Goals Delivering Ahead of Schedule

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced significant progress in the first year of the Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda. In September 2012, the City of Chicago set 24 goals across seven sustainability categories including: economic development and job creation; energy efficiency and clean energy; transportation options; water and wastewater; parks, open spaces, and healthy food; waste and recycling; and climate change. Since that time, the City has marked several key accomplishments and one third of goals are delivering ahead of schedule. Chicago continues to grow through sustainability research and innovation.

“The City of Chicago is a world-leader in fostering sustainability and has proven without question that environmentally friendly practices and good business practices go hand in hand," said Mayor Emanuel. “Ensuring Chicago’s long-term livability and competitiveness is an ongoing effort and we will continue to foster economic growth and job opportunities as we improve sustainability throughout the city."

In support of a global approach to sustainability, Chicago is the first major city to report under the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Framework, an international standard for sustainability reporting. Over 14,000 GRI-compliant reports by organizations in 92 countries have been produced, primarily by private corporations.

“Around the world, cities and local government are responsible for managing a wide range of sustainability impacts,” Mike Wallace, Director of GRI's US & Canadian Focal Point said. “Through transparent and consistent sustainability reporting, organizations can help attract investment and drive innovation. We applaud the leadership example Chicago sets with this precedent setting step in sustainability."

Building on Chicago’s legacy of planning, action, and leadership on climate and environmental issues, the Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda offers a concrete roadmap for the City and its residents to make Chicago an even more prosperous, healthy, and vibrant place to live and work. All advancements are currently on track to make significant advances to save taxpayer dollars, pollution reduction and climate change.

The City has marked several key accomplishments this year. The final two coal-fired power plants in Chicago closed and City Council passed an important energy benchmarking ordinance. The City added an additional 338,000 households to the blue cart recycling program, replaced 75 miles of water mains, reduced the permitting time for residential solar projects to one day, and electricity for residents and small business was procured free of coal. Chicago continues to make sizeable investments in green infrastructure, access to parks and healthy food, and transit options. Residents and businesses have also played a key role as Chicago’s Divvy bike sharing program and Retrofit Chicago continue to grow in success and popularity.

Finally the City launched the Greencorps Chicago Youth Program which provided 600 sustainability related summer jobs to CPS high school students, becoming the largest city run green career training program in the country. 

“Under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership the Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda has been broadly successful in just the first year,” said Karen Weigert, Chief Sustainability Officer. “The City of Chicago has made significant progress in all seven categories. We look forward to continuing our work and meeting all 24 set goals by 2015.”

Sustainable Chicago 2015’s seven categories are the result of a stakeholder engagement process which began with Mayor Emanuel’s inaugural transition team. Chicago’s sustainability goals represent input from city leaders and community members from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. In total, Mayor’s Office staff convened over one hundred organizations in a series of conversations, discussing community needs, materiality, and strategy over the short, medium, and longer term.

The first year progress report also identifies specific areas where Chicago residents, families and communities can drive the impact of the City’s sustainability goals. Resident engagement is absolutely essential if Chicago is to achieve its ambitious sustainability aspirations. The City welcomes your questions, feedback, and success stories related to Sustainable Chicago 2015. Please contact the City at

The Year One Progress Report is available for download here.