Chicago’s Green Plan

The windy city is staking its claim as the greenest city in the U.S. with the unveiling of the Chicago Climate Action Plan, a step-by-step blueprint designed to help lower the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Under the plan, Chicago will work to reduce its emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. It’s the first plan to both identify emission sources and anticipated impacts, and propose ideas that specifically respond to that research. “We know what the challenges are, but we also know what we can do to adapt to climate change,” says Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Chicago Department of Environment commissioner. “And that’s exciting because it gives us a chance to develop a new green economy.”

Chicago plans to zero in on 29 actions that target four sectors most responsible for carbon emissions: buildings, transportation, energy and waste pollution. So far, city businesses seem amenable. In October 2008, fayor Richard Daley recognized the efforts of 25 hotels striving for Green Seal certification, an environmental lodging standard with requirements in such eco-friendly activities as waste minimization, energy efficiency and water conservation. Five Chicago hotels currently boast the Green Seal with 20 others close to receiving certification, making it the city with the most Green Seal-certified hotels in the country. The city also has the most LEED-registered projects in the nation.