"As leaders of this community, we need to show we are willing to work collaboratively to find solutions,” said Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl.
The Evanston Green Ribbon Committee formed in 2010 as an adjunct of the Evanston Climate Action Plan (ECAP) with a mission to curb local contributions to climate change. Comprised of the seven largest employers in Evanston, the committee is dedicated to ongoing collaboration in an attempt to advance strategies outlined in ECAP.
The committee is chaired by representatives from:
- City of Evanston
- Northwestern University
- NorthShore Evanston Hospital
- Saint Francis Hospital
- School District 65
- School District 202 Evanston Township High School
- Rotary International
Collectively, these seven entities represent one third of the Evanston workforce. They seek to lead sustainable change in the city by working together and inspiring citizens. The committee meets quarterly to discuss goals, projects and progress, such as the Big 7 Savers Challenge.
Committee Projects & Initiatives
The Big Seven Energy Savers Challenge began in March 2011 and was the Green Ribbon Committee’s first enterprise. The energy and money saving competition reduced Evanston greenhouse gas emissions by more than 476,767 pounds of CO2 in one year. More than 1,700 residents signed up with the seven largest employers to track and reduce energy usage and save nearly $40,000 from March 2011 to April 2012. By the end of the competition, NorthShore Hospital had recruited 820 families to join its CUB Energy Saver team, and ETHS team members had cut electricity bills by an average of 3.15 percent per household.
Click here to find out more about the competition and how you can lower your energy bill and carbon footprint with CUB.
The Green Ribbon Committee is currently developing its next initiative to reduce citywide emissions and advance goals of ECAP and the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, signed by the city in 2006.
Commitments to Sustainability
Beyond collaboration with the Green Ribbon Committee, each of the Big Seven employers also promotes internal sustainability initiatives. Below find highlights of each organization's green programs, goals and accomplishments.
City of Evanston
The City of Evanston officially declared sustainability a major priority when former Mayor Lorraine H. Morton signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2006. Since, city officials have worked to steadily improve sustainability in a three pronged approach: institutionalizing sustainable habits, implementing pilot projects and seizing grant opportunities.
Energy Efficiency: Energy efficiency has been a top sustainability initiative since the 2008 Evanston Climate Action Plan set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 13 percent by 2012. Lighting and HVAC upgrades and other building retrofits have helped reduce the city’s emissions by 24 percent since 2006. The community has also reduced emissions by 4 percent. With the switch to 100 percent renewable energy through the Community Choice Electricity Aggregation (CCA), emissions could reduce by another fourfold. The 25 kW solar array atop the water treatment plant has also reduced emissions by generating more than 56 MWh of electricity since October 2010—enough to power three football stadiums for a day.
Transportation: Sustainable transportation infrastructure in Evanston is constantly expanding. In addition to the X miles of bike lanes spanning Evanston, the city’s first protected bike lane will be installed on Church Street in the fall of 2012. The project came as a green aspect of an already scheduled construction project on Church Street. The city frequently seizes opportunities to incorporate sustainability into routine improvement projects like road resurfacing. Evanston is also home to two car-share programs, helping reduce the number of vehicles necessary in our community. Internally, the fleet of biodiesel city vehicles undergoes proactive maintenance to improve efficiency and upgrades to more efficient models when purchasing new vehicles.
Waste Management: With extensive comingle recycling and e-cycling programs in place, the city has set a goal to increase recycling by 10,000 tons. The City has also initiated a Backyard Compost Program to provide 95-gallon bins to residents for free. Instead of sending away damaged old bins for recycling, the City is repurposing them to facilitate urban composting. More than 500 bins were deployed to the community in 2011, with several hundred more slated for distribution in 2012.
The city also sponsored the first One Seed One Evanston program to promote local, healthy eating habits. Swiss chard was selected as the common crop, a food for residents to grow across Evanston both individually and as part of the community.
The City of Evanston has declared the following sustainability goals for the future: +500 sustainability newsletter subscribers, +500 residential composters, +500 ComEd and Nicor utility energy saving programs participants, +1,000 CUB Energy Savers participants, +10,000 tons of recycling and semiannual sustainability community group meet-ups.
With groundbreaking energy and sustainability research published by Northwestern University faculty and students each year, NU prioritizes environmental issues in operations and curriculum. The university Sustainability Council is currently in the process of developing a Strategic Plan for Sustainability to guide environmental developments at Northwestern over the next 5-10 years.
Energy Efficiency: Established in 2010, Northwestern’s Energy Retrofit Fund dedicated $33 million to energy upgrades on the university’s two campuses. Beyond lighting, HVAC and other building improvements, NERF also includes a plan to increase the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from 30 percent to 50 percent in 2014. Northwestern has six certified LEED buildings with three more gold and platinum projects in the works, and a 16.8 kW solar array atop the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center. Geothermal installations at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and the Bienen School Of Music also reduce NU’s carbon footprint. The university plans to further explore opportunities in energy cogeneration.
Transportation: Northwestern’s shuttle bus fleet is in the midst of a hybrid diesel pilot project in an ongoing attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Beyond building a bike and pedestrian friendly campus, the university is also installing electric car charging stations on its Evanston campus to facilitate sustainable transportation for its staff, students and visitors. Several car-share vehicles are also parked on Northwestern’s campus.
Waste Management: With an 1,800 ton annual recycling program in place, Northwestern plans to add composting to its waste management system starting in 2012. Campus kitchens also recycle cooking grease into biodiesel at the Loyola Biodiesel Lab.
As an institute for higher education, Northwestern University also supports green curriculum with more than 80 energy and sustainability courses offered each year. The Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) is also rolling out a new undergraduate Certificate in Energy and Sustainability in the 2012-13 academic year. Energy and sustainability research is also a top priority at NU, with funding for faculty and students available from the Office of Research, ISEN, academic departments and more.
NorthShore Evanston Hospital
NorthShore Evanston Hospital considers sustainability part of its mission— “to preserve and improve human life.” The hospital system has worked to improve environmental conditions at each of its locations in order to support its community and reduce its carbon footprint.
Energy Efficiency: Retrocommissioning is NorthShore’s major tactic for reducing energy consumption at its hospitals. Upgrading building systems in its 100-year-old building has allowed for significant energy savings. The non-profit has also upgraded lighting to T8 bulbs for higher efficiency, and turns down ventilation systems in non-critical areas during evenings.
Waste Management: Waste is an area of concentration in NorthShore’s sustainability plan. The hospital has implemented large comingle, fiber and alkaline battery recycling programs at its four hospitals and 124 off-site operating rooms. NorthShore also has a Greening the OR initiative to recycle plastic packaging from operating room medial equipment. Another aspect of the hospital’s fully integrated waste management system is an agreement with its manufacturers to sterilize and reuse sharps containers 350 times before disposal. The hospital cafeteria has further supported sustainability by switching to reusable trays and non-Styrofoam cups, achieving 90-95 percent recyclability.
Saint Francis Hospital
Evanston’s Saint Francis Hospital Green Team Committee was established in 2011 with a goal to improve sustainability at a system-wide level. The hospital has focused initially on greening its internal operations and improving its environment for staff and patients.
Energy Efficiency: Saint Francis has undergone three phases of ComEd-guided retrofits and is an ENERGY STAR partner. The hospital encourages mindfulness among the staff to habituate green practices like turning off lights. The Green Team Committee also presents monthly Inspirement Tables on various sustainability tips such as reducing water waste and planting trees. Further, the hospital posts staff guides to sustainability such as “Explore an Energy-Efficient Office Cubicle.” Throughout the hospital, windows, blinds and curtains are closed to reduce the light load and improve efficiency of central air systems. Saint Francis’s cogeneration program is also capable of providing power to 5,000-10,000 nearby homes in times of extreme demand. When purchasing new equipment, the hospital considers energy efficiency in an ongoing effort to improve its ENERGY STAR rating.
Waste Management: Saint Francis operates its own recycling compactor to make recycling even more efficient. Further waste reducing initiatives are in consideration.
Beyond the walls of the hospital, Saint Francis spearheads several community sustainability initiatives. The hospital provides energy for neighbors through its cogeneration program and collaborates with the city arborist to plant trees along streets near Saint Francis.
School District 202 - Evanston Township High School
Sustainability surfaced as a D-202 budgetary goal in 2008 when economic pressures encouraged many to go green. Since, Evanston Township High School has implemented several energy and sustainability initiatives and drastically reduced its carbon footprint.
Energy Efficiency: ETHS switches to a four-day workweek during summer break, reducing energy and water consumption greatly and saving nearly $250,000. Year round, the district collects and stores 6,000 barrels of water underground, used to water athletic fields on campus. 3M light reflecting white roofs, energy saving windows and efficient lighting systems also reduce the school’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Lamar House near the ETHS wetlands area is run entirely on renewable energy generated by solar and wind energy and is used as a center for sustainability living.
Transportation: District 202’s urban location allows the school to provide subsidized CTA passes and bike racks rather than own a fleet of school buses. This effectively marginalizes the school’s transportation emissions.
Waste Management: D-202 owns its own recycling compactor to efficiently dispose of waste. The comingle recycling program is also accessible throughout the school.
ETHS engages students in sustainability partly through its campus greenhouse and gardens. Food for the ETHS and elementary school cafeterias are also prepared on-site from local produce, when available. Water bottle refilling stations can also be found throughout the hallways, facilitating reusable beverage containers by students and staff. Discussions of an outdoor classroom are also underway.
Although a global organization, Rotary International focuses on local sustainability in its quest for humanitarian service. Sustainability became a priority issue in 2006 under the guidance of the organization's past leadership and continues with its current management team.
Energy Efficiency: Rotary International headquarters in Evanston recently was awarded LEED Gold status. Retrofits to the building’s boiler and chiller plants greatly reduced emissions to achieve LEED. Light sensors, efficient light and a reflective “cool roof” also lower Rotary’s emissions output.
Transportation: Rotary International encourages sustainable commuting by providing staff with bike racks and a staff transit program.
Waste Management: In an effort to reduce waste, Rotary stores extra resources from across departments in a shared office supply closet. Unused binders, keyboards and more are collected and made available for general use and eventually donated to local organizations in need. Rotary also purchases 90 percent natural and 100 percent recyclable cleaning products. The building’s recycling program also accepts writing utensils, which are recycled for a profit of $0.02 per pen. The total profits from pen recycling are in turn donated to The Rotary Foundation in support of its programming.
Additionally, Rotary International has partnered with the local Evanston chapter to perform beach cleanups. Its Green Committee continues to seek opportunities for sustainability.