Sustain Evanston Meeting Highlights

Sustain Evanston Meeting Highlights, June 3, 2015

This June the City of Evanston Office of Sustainability hosted a Sustain Evanston meeting.  These meetings are opportunities for environmental leaders and activists within the community to come together and discuss sustainability in Evanston.  The focus of this June 3rd meeting was Evanston’s Livability Plan.

The two-hour meeting included discussion of many green efforts in the City, some of which include environmental justice, building efficiency and energy benchmarking, energy efficiency retrofits, and community wildlife habitats for birds and bees.  The meeting focused on three specific green efforts:

  • Livability Plan Update
  • Upcoming Project and Initiatives
  • Sustainable Business Awards

Livability Plan Update

The meeting opened with Catherine Hurley, Evanston’s Sustainability Manager providing an update on Evanston’s Livability Plan.  Meeting attendees were excited to hear that preliminary results indicate the City is on track with the Greenhouse Gas emissions goal.  The City has access to an annual record of how much energy is being used by city businesses, residents, transport, government and more, which shows that there has been a substantial decrease in the past five years in total energy used.  According to C. Hurley, this is largely because of 100% green energy contracts for city buildings, and also Northwestern’s commitment to using 50% green energy.  In addition to the rise in use of green energy, gasoline and natural gas emissions are decreasing slowly but steadily from 2010.  The group emphasized that it is important for residents to know the positive impact their efforts are making, and to keep up the good work.

Upcoming Projects and Initiatives

Evanston’s recent 4-STAR community rating for excellence in sustainability was also a topic of conversation, as the report from the STAR Communities offered insight on what the City can work on next.  C. Hurley reported that Evanston did well in many different varied categories, but needs to improve most on environmental justice and climate adaptation.  This sparked an interesting dialogue on new projects that environmental groups can collaborate on.  Some initiatives include expanding the efforts of The Evanston Environment Board’s environmental justice subcommittee in working to make information on sustainability more approachable to all members of the community.  Another area of interest is potentially gathering environmental leaders and social service leaders in the City to work together towards analyzing how well the City is prepared for climate adaptation.

Sustainable Business Awards

The group also focused largely on wanting to encourage businesses to become more environmentally friendly, and is considering implementing sustainable business awards to recognize both local and chain businesses that are helping reduce Evanston’s impact.  Environmental leaders hope to encourage businesses not only to make sustainable improvements, but also to think ahead and create long-term plans for sustainability.

Sustain Evanston offers all those within the community who are passionate about the environment an opportunity to help improve Evanston’s quality of life.  The next Sustain Evanston meeting will take place in the fall and is open to all environmental leaders and activists in the community.  Email sustainability@cityofevanston.org to get involved.

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