April 22, 2015

City of Chicago Celebrates Earth Day

Initiatives and events across the City raise awareness and provide educational opportunities on pressing environmental concerns

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

The City of Chicago today celebrated Earth Day and announced the launch of its own sustainable operations policy as well as the completion of Retrofit One. Following Chicago’s recent Office Depot award for being the number one green purchaser in the country through 2013, and in coordination with the 60 buildings now tracking and seeing savings on energy costs through Retrofit One, Chicago’s sustainable operations policies and programs are solidifying the city’s status as one of the most sustainable cities in the country.

“The City of Chicago knows that in order to see the lasting results of living sustainably, we cannot go green just once a year,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “These policies and programs will not only protect our environment now but will create lasting habits for future generations to both practice and benefit from.”

As part of their Sustainable Operations Plan, the Department of Fleet and Facilities Management (2FM) will build upon the city’s existing commitment to obtain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) certification of all new city buildings, and will add to their existing inventory of over 40 LEED-certified buildings. The plan’s detailed policies will incorporate environmentally conscious decisions and continue to integrate sustainability measures as a standard practice. Implementing the Sustainable Operations Plan is also a key action identified in the city’s Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda, which set concrete initiatives, metrics and strategies aimed at advancing Chicago’s goals of being the most livable, competitive and sustainable city in the 21st century. Some of the plan’s sustainable operations already underway include:

•    Green Cleaning: City facilities are now cleaned using green cleaning products and equipment that allows for the delivery of effective cleaning while reducing exposure of building occupants to potentially hazardous chemicals.

•    Integrated Pest Management:  The city has adopted an approach that minimizes risks to people and the environment by using a combination of pest control methods (e.g., biological, cultural, physical and chemical) that reduces the use of hazardous pesticides.

•    Copy Machines: The city recently reduced the number of copy machines, installed more energy-efficient models and set defaults to double-sided printing.

In addition to this launch, the City is finishing up 114 energy conservation projects in 60 municipal buildings across Chicago through Retrofit One. Annual energy usage reductions are now being achieved, tracked and guaranteed. In addition to the utility cost savings, these projects are improving occupant comfort and generating operational and maintenance savings. Whether it is bright new white lights at Harold Washington Library and Woodson Regional Library, or the more than 30 facilities that can now be monitored and controlled remotely with building automation systems, Retrofit One is proving that conserving energy can yield many other benefits.

“Across the City Chicagoans are benefitting from the results of our Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda items,” said Chief Sustainability Officer Karen Weigert. “Whether it’s the new and upgraded parks in the neighborhoods, many and varied transportation options, or energy savings in our municipal buildings, Earth Day is a great time to remember all we have already accomplished and how much more we can do by working together to make Chicago the most livable big city.”

In celebration of Earth Day and in collaboration with the City of Chicago, as well as Green Community Connections and the Institute of Cultural Affairs in the USA, the One Earth Day Film Festival will host a screening of the first ever Festival Choice selection, the documentary “Just Eat It”, an award-winning and fact-based documentary exploring the staggering amounts of food that go to waste in households and farm fields, at Columbia College Chicago’s Film Row Cinema. This year the One Earth Film Festival showed films across the themes of the Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda items.  Following the film a panel of local experts will discuss food waste challenges and opportunities in homes, Chicago’s urban farm scene and places like schools, restaurants and grocery stores. You can reserve your free tickets now.