With population influxes, an increase in stress about the future has settled on the minds of communities around the globe. Chicago, the third largest city in the United States, has reached a population of nearly 2.7 million people in 2012, about one million people less than Los Angeles. With that, the pressure to become sustainable is lofty. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made it his goal to make Chicago the most sustainable city in the country via the Sustainable Chicago plan, which will be in effect for 2015.
Around $8 billion in public and private investments have been given to support these sustainability-related projects in Chicago. The projects range from enhancing the water and sewer infrastructure to reduce water waste, keeping Chicago as a global airport hub, enhancing natural spaces, and upgrading the Chicago public schools and City Colleges in hopes of making them more energy efficient. Through spending less money on energy use, creating new jobs with higher pay, upgrading infrastructure, and ensuring each Chicagoan their right to a lively and healthy lifestyle, Chicago aims to become the most sustainable city in America.
Chicago’s primary goal is to become a “hub for the growing sustainable economy.” This begins with “increase[ing] investment and research…establishing technologies to advance sustainable solutions…recruit[ing] companies and individuals with the most innovative clean energy and sustainability solutions to Chicago…[and] increasing demand for sustainable products and approaches by adopting a green procurement policy.” By 2010, there were 1.3 million jobs, 12.25% of which were in some way related to sustainability and clean energy. Through this infrastructure improvement program, 30,000 jobs will be created over the next three years.
The “Sustainable Chicago” plan’s second goal is to assist people and companies with sustainable practices, such as when United Airlines made the first U.S. commercial airline trip powered solely by biofuel. Unfortunately, the rest of the country is not as dedicated to sustainable practices, and there are hopes that if Chicago can prove to be sustainable, that other communities will follow. In hopes of moving forward, however, people and companies should “double the number of offices and businesses making operations more sustainable…Support sustainability and green building education for the public…Determine training gaps based on planned investments…expand educational and training opportunities in environmental…[and] identify, prioritize, and eliminate code barriers to sustainable practices.” One way to become a more sustainable business is by having your office participate in the Chicago Green Office Challenge. This competition was created in 2009 and works to “engage tenants and building managers in a voluntary program to reduce carbon emissions.” In 2011, over 140 participants in Chicago saved around $17.5 million!
To view a more in-depth look at this plan, be sure to visit the City of Chicago’s website