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By Jon Sedey
Formerly known as Illinois Facilities Fund, IFF is a nonprofit lender and real estate consultant dedicated to improving other like-minded nonprofits and the communities that they serve. IFF is committed to the belief that the nonprofit sector is extremely influential in terms of changing our current society. “We only lend to nonprofits, so our whole business is understanding everything about them, their operating structure, governance structure and how financing helps or hurts them,” said IFF CEO Joe Neri.
If you are one of the quarter-million people expected to attend Lollapalooza this weekend, the three-day festival will feature more than just music acts. This year, fans will have a chance to engage with the Prius Playground, an energy-generating activity center on the concert grounds.
By Matt Baker
Operating under the premise that ecological progress and economic development are not mutually exclusive, the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) advocates for sustainability policies across the Midwest. Founded in 1993, the non-profit, public interest organization has notched a number of victories, especially lately. Illinois utilities, for example, must increase solar energy purchasing starting next year, legislation due largely to the efforts of the ELPC. They also helped broker the nation’s largest urban solar plant, which was installed in 2010 on the city’s Pullman neighborhood. The multidisciplinary staff is now focused on cleaning the Chicago River, installing controls at coal plants and bringing high speed rail to the Midwest.
By Julie Henning
Celebrating its twentieth anniversary, Uncommon Ground is a vanguard among restaurants seeking to feed Chicagoans seasonably, locally and sustainably.
The greenest restaurant in the city of Chicago, third-party certified by the Green Restaurant Association, Uncommon Ground has been a neighborhood favorite café, bar and restaurant for twenty years. Expanding from the flagship location in Wrigleyville, owners Helen and Michael Cameron opened a second location in Edgewater in 2007.
By Matt Baker
For the second time this year, the Illinois General Assembly has approved legislation for a $3 billion energy facility. Chicago Clean Energy would be a gasification plant designed to produce substitute natural gas from coal and industrial byproducts. Chicago Clean Energy is an initiative of Leucadia National Corporation, the proponents of the first bill. The gas plant site at 115th and Burley Avenue on the city’s south side is a 140-acre brownfield, the former site of a coke manufacturing plant that went bankrupt in 2001.
By Matt Baker
Two summers ago, the owners of the Willis Tower announced an ambitious, five-year, $350 million renovation plan for the nation’s tallest building. The project called for wind turbines, green roofs and solar panels. Every elevator and escalator was to be updated and fuel cells would join next generation boilers to heat and cool the skyscraper.
By Jon Sedey
On April 19th 2011, Index Publishing held the fifth annual Building Green Chicago Conference and Expo at the Swissôtel Chicago. After the keynote address, the educational sections consisted of topics ranging from deconstruction, energy consumption and non-potable water sources.
By Steen Hagensen
In most boilers today, heat exchange devices, or economizers, pre-heat the incoming feed water with the boiler’s own exhaust gases to maximize efficiency. Over the years, improvements have been made to economizers that now have better heat transfer rates than ever, but it is still only very few boilers that can benefit from their installation. Atmospheric and fan-assisted boilers don’t create a powerful enough draft to force flue gases through the economizer, which makes them unsuitable for economizer installations.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn quashed any hope of support that Commonwealth Edison had for its proposal to construct a smart electric grid. According to a Chicago Tribune report, Quinn argues that, in its current form, the deal would allow ComEd and other utilities to hike rates without state approval.
By: Jon Sedey
Green Business owners are seeing controversy over a new business certification passed Wednesday by the Chicago City Council. Established by the Department of Environment, this ordinance is intended to certify companies that meet certain green and environmentally friendly standards. Companies that meet and exceed these standards will be able to place a decal on the front of their shop.
Despite active participation by green-business groups in this ordinance, many were upset by the version that was approved.
“I was disappointed to see the green business certification ordinance pass,” said Peter Nicholson, director at Foresight Sustainable Business Alliance. “I am afraid that this opens doors for greenwashing, by allowing a business to get certified based on criteria that may not be relevant to their core product or service.”
Suzanne Keers, executive director and co-founder of Local First Chicago, says that this ordinance is flawed because it does not place value on the companies’ complete environmental or social impact. “A business owner could encourage employees to ride their bike to work, but they might also be creating a product full of pollutants that’s harming our community and still be certified under this ordinance,” she said.
To obtain a Chicago Green Business title, the ordinance stipulates businesses must adopt a handful of practices across varying criteria. For instance, businesses must prove that they are reducing carbon emissions by following four steps among a list of fourteen, including encouraging bike usage, riding trains, carpooling or working via telecommute. Another category is energy reduction where businesses can get steps (often referred to as points) by monitoring and recording energy use, switching to compact fluorescent lights and planting vegetation.
Alderman Margaret Laruino (39th) co-sponsored this ordinance and expects the program to alter over time. “It’s only a first step and completely voluntary. We fully expect municipal code to evolve as environmental technologies and business practices change with the times.”
Dan Rosenthal, chairman of the Green Restaurant Co-op and owner of Sopraffina restaurants believes this will mislead and confuse business owners. “Under this ordinance, all a business has to do is fill out a form, sign an affidavit, send in a hundred bucks to the city and poof! It’s now a certified Chicago Green Business. It’s the very definition of greenwashing, no third party audit is involved.”
With no audit, proponents of this ordinance fear that there will not be any oversight and there will be no way to know whether or not the business is keeping the standards that its decal claims. This contrasts the Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op, whereby restaurants are required to be audited and have their sustainability claims verified.
Green Business Chicago goes into effect in January.