Friday

Clean energy jobs




Green City Times has written about the recent, substantial increase in clean energy employment opportunities. Clean energy jobs include jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency; and range from wind turbine technician and solar panel installer, to maintenance of smart meters, to manufacturing LED light bulbs and electric cars. In fact, in the United States, clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs by 5-to-1, and employment opportunities in wind and solar energy are growing at 12 times the rate of jobs throughout the rest of the U.S. economy.

It is high time that all public policy officials from local municipalities' city council members to state and federal representatives and senators focus on the quickly growing segment of the jobs market that is clean energy jobs. 

The Democratic governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, has put together an extensive, detailed plan to create a substantial uptick of clean energy jobs in the United States. He developed this plan as a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful before he ended his 202o campaign, but the Inslee Plan remains relevant -
"The Inslee Plan sits on five pillars: 
  • Investing in a nationwide effort to deploy clean energy technology.
  • Spending billions on American infrastructure with a focus on clean energy structures.
  • Incentivizing companies to increase energy efficiency by creating an Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit.
  • Increasing federal investment in clean energy research by five times, to $35 billion each year.
In total, the plan would see the federal government spending $3 trillion on investment in fighting climate change and green technology over 10 years. Inslee believes the plan would also leverage an additional $6 trillion over the same period in private money. 
The plan would create a $90 billion Green Bank to help deploy green technology to communities and launch a Clean Water for All initiative that would spend $82 billion to close the ... annual funding gap in critical drinking water, stormwater and wastewater infrastructure. 
The proposal would also boost the investment in electric vehicle and battery technology, as well as establish a "federal 'Buy Clean' Program to help close the carbon loophole and support domestic industries and workers." - from:  https://www.cnn.com/jay-inslee-2020-jobs-plan-clean-energy-infrastructure
Please also see this article from Climate Nexus for more on this topic:

Overall, when you add *clean energy jobs to jobs directly in renewable energy, there are currently over 3 million jobs in clean energy in the United States, including energy efficiency-related jobs, clean energy storage jobs, and clean transportation jobs, in the United States. Employment that is directly in renewable energy in the U.S. features, most prominently, jobs in solar and wind, although jobs in geothermal energy, biomass, and hydroelectricity are also included.

*Employment in clean energy features, first and foremost, jobs in energy efficiency including jobs in Energy Star and green building,and in LED and CFL lighting, among other employment in clean energy efficiency. Jobs in the smart grid, maintaining smart meters, and in clean energy storage are also included in the over 3 million clean energy jobs in the United States figure. With regard to sustainable transportation, jobs in electric vehicle, plug-in hybrids, and hybrid vehicle production, in addition to jobs in sustainable mass transit, and in biofuel production are included.

Wind turbine technician is the single fastest growing job in the United States. Solar energy also has impressive employment growth statistics, with about 1 in 50 new jobs created in the United States coming from the solar industry. The fastest growing job in solar is solar panel installer. Sustainability professional, sustainable builder, and clean car engineer are also among the fastest growing jobs in clean energy, and the United States as a whole.



A look at clean energy jobs in the United States (2018)


There are over 3 times more jobs in the clean energy sector than in fossil fuels. Over 1/3 of workers in the energy sector have jobs in energy efficiency fields. Almost 40% of construction jobs in the energy sector are in wind or solar energy. The future of employment in the energy sector is in renewable energy, not in fossil fuels. The dominance of clean energy jobs over those in fossil fuels is true even in the Midwest United States, as depicted in this chart--

Thursday

Permanent ban on new coal mines and other sustainability priorities

Image result for climate change

What are the best strategies for stopping global warming? Carbon pricing? The Green New Deal? Government mandates to reduce production and use of fossil fuels, and simultaneously increase the production of clean and renewable energy? Here's a brief list of sustainability priorities that the United States should implement in order to avoid contributing to the most catastrophic consequences of anthropogenic climate change:


  1. Permanent moratorium on new coal plants.
  2. Permanent ban on all offshore drilling off the continental United States and Alaska.
  3. Ban all tar sands oil imports via TransCanada- so that means ban all trains and pipelines that transport crude oil from Canada to the U.S., and stop the development of the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline, as well as pipelines like Line 3.
  4. Before doing any kind of crazy new policy like the Green New Deal, or even a less crazy policy like the various federal carbon pricing proposals circulating Congress, first the United States must re-join the Paris Climate Accord.
  5. The United States must also restart all ambitious goals to meet the climate targets set by the United States at the Paris Climate Accord. All regulations for fossil fuel developments that were mandated under the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which mirror goals set at the Paris Climate Accord, must be enforced. Greenhouse gas emissions from power plants will need to meet the standards set by the Paris Climate Accord and the Clean Power Plan.

There were a few significant events which showed strong signs of global progress in addressing anthropogenic climate change in 2014-2015, leading to the Paris Climate Accord:
  1. the Pope’s Encyclical on Climate Change
  2. Obama’s CPP
  3. Paris Climate Accord

These events represented true progress. We must get back to this momentum.


Big Oil and Coal in the United States finance the campaigns of many (Republican) politicians, and has successfully been able to slow down progress on some major climate goals. How much of the Clean Power Plan has the Trump administration, Congressional Republicans, and the EPA under Trump been able to stop? The EPA under the Trump administration has been able to stop or reverse the ambitious goals of the CPP and Paris Climate Accord in some, Republican-controlled, states. However, many states and cities in the United States are on track to meet the initial requirements of the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Climate Accord, as individual states can remain committed to the climate goals of the CPP and Paris Climate Accord. 

Some of these states even have more ambitious strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change than put forth in the CPP or at Paris. Examples of states with ambitious climate mitigation plans include: states like California, Hawaii, Washington, and New Mexico (all states which have passed bills through their states' legislatures that mandate 100% renewable energy within the next 25 years for their entire states), as well as states like New York (which is planning a congestion levy for cars in the city center of NYC).
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Carbon pricing, incentives for clean energy and clean energy job growth - are among public policies that would benefit the environmental health of the planet by increasing investment in clean and renewable energy; helping in the fight against climate change by lowing greenhouse gas emissions from energy production. Policies supporting clean job growth would also help the economy. Here is an article by Green City Times - a guide to needed public policies for environmental (as well as economic) sustainability, including our take on the Green New Deal - 

greencitytimes.com/stabilize-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2/

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Friday

Renewable energy vs. fossil fuels (coal, gas) vs. nuclear





Image result for Renewable energy vs. fossil fuels (coal, gas) vs. nuclearThe reason that economic arguments tend to trump (pardon the pun) environmental arguments when finding solutions to anthropogenic climate change, is because the senate is majority climate denying Republicans, who are more likely to respond to economic arguments. You could simply say, "renewable energy is better than fossil fuels, because renewable energy is better for the environment", but odds are Republican senators won't care until you also point out that the LCOE of renewable energy is less than the cost of fossil fuels. Republican senators will be needed to pass environments regulatory laws (now that Trump has destroyed the Clean Power Plan, new energy/ environmental regulations are needed), and hopefully a federal carbon pricing system. Also, since this is ostensibly a priority for ALL politicians, it should be highlighted that there are more jobs in renewable energy than fossil fuels.


Congressional republicans who continue to deny climate change don't necessarily have to want to protect the environment, or "give in" to the science behind anthropogenic climate change. Republicans can simply vote for energy policies that represent a cost savings; which tend to be renewable energy investments, over coal.

The cost of producing energy with renewable energy vs. fossil fuels is dramatically lower when just the cost of producing electricity (marginal cost) is considered. When the costs of the negative externalities associated with fossil fuel production are added in with the LCOE*, the relative cost of renewable energy sources vs. fossil fuels is lower still. Overall, the lowest cost of energy production is wind (which also has zero negative externalities), followed by natural gas (which carries the cost of negative externalities), followed by renewable energy sources, most significantly solar. 
Hydroelectricity also represents a relatively low cost source of domestic energy for the United States. Producing energy from coal is no longer cheaper than renewables or gas, and is very harmful to both the environment and public health.
"Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) is often cited as a convenient summary measure of the overall competitiveness of different generating technologies. It represents the per-MWh cost (in discounted real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle. 4 Key inputs to calculating LCOE include capital costs, fuel costs, fixed and variable operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, financing costs, and an assumed utilization rate for each plant." - quote from the EIA

* Examples of levelized costs of energy include: up-front capital costs/ costs of initial investment (which are much higher for renewable energy than fossil fuel energy), marginal cost of the fuel source (which is much higher for fossil fuels, and almost nothing for free, abundant sources of renewable energy like solar and wind energy, and very low cost for hydro, geothermal, and biomass), cost of maintenance for the power plant/ energy farm/ dam, etc... , cost of transporting the fuel (again, zero for most renewable energy), costs associated with transmitting/ distributing the energy, insurance costs for the energy producing facility, etc... In this chart, you can clearly see how much more expensive nuclear and coal are projected to remain in comparison to renewables.


For the initial capital costs, nuclear is the most expensive form of energy. The "good" thing about nuclear energy production is that there are low marginal costs, and there are little to no negative externalities with regard to the actual energy production, i.e. little to no GHG emissions... and you just have to find Yucca mountains to bury the radioactive waste so people aren't exposed to potentially cancer-causing radiation... oh, and we have to hope that there's not a Fukushima-type catastrophe. 

The major problems with new nuclear plants are: the potential for another Fukushima and/ or nuclear weapons proliferation, at least until 4th gen nuclear is ready to be produced and deployed, and the very high up-front capital cost of building new nuclear plants. The US Energy Information Administration estimated that for new nuclear plants in 2019 capital costs will make up 75% of the LCOE.



Related image

That said, 4th generation nuclear promises to be safe (if it ever gets built). New reactors can run on spent uranium and even thorium. 4th generation nuclear has entirely safe, cost 
efficient designs. Actually, the levelized cost of energy production from new, advanced nuclear reactors is looking viable.



For more information on this, and similar topics, please see:


https://www.greencitytimes.com/nuclear-one-necessary-energy-supply-to-fight-climate-change/


https://www.greencitytimes.com/coal-vs-natural-gas/


https://www.greencitytimes.com/what-makes-a-city-sustainable/ 

https://www.greencitytimes.com/economic-growth-vs-the-environment/ 


https://greencitytimes.blogspot.com/2019/01/wind-solar-and-other-renewables-offer.html

Saturday

Why the Green New Deal won't work



Image result for green new deal  cost trillionThe public policy which makes no logical sense, and should definitely NOT be implemented, is the plan progressives in Congress have recently tried to advance- the Green New Deal (GND). Sustainable energy sources are both better for the environment and the economy. However, instead of relying on reasonable market mechanisms like carbon pricing, subsidies, and regulations, the GND picks "winners" and "losers" without letting the market have a say.

Mandating an immediate transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy will have a cost of at least $5 trillion in the next decade alone (a trillion dollars up-front cost and around 1/2 trillion dollars annually for at least the next decade), and devastate the US economy. On the other hand, the GND will potentially save the economy of the United States (eventually) trillions of dollars as well, most significantly by eliminating the "social cost of carbon", i.e. negative externalities of fossil fuel development, production, and consumption (such as the cost of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution to the environment and public health; costs only associated with fossil fuels, and not renewable energy, as renewables are environmentally-friendly). When you factor in the cost of negative externalities and the levelized cost of energy (LCOE), renewables are less expensive than fossil fuelsExamples of levelized costs of energy include: up-front capital costs/ costs of initial investment (which are much higher for renewable energy than fossil fuel energy), marginal cost of the fuel source (which is much higher for fossil fuels, and almost nothing for free, abundant sources of renewable energy like solar and wind energy, and very low cost for hydro, geothermal, and biomass), cost of maintenance for the power plant/ energy farm/ dam, etc…, cost of transporting the fuel (again, zero for most renewable energy), costs associated with transmitting/ distributing the energy, insurance costs for the energy producing facility, etc… For more information on LCOE and cost of negative externalities (of fossil fuels), please see "What makes a city sustainable".

However, the immediate cost of the GND is based on educated guesswork, as are numbers associated with savings to society from the GND. Of the projected cost/ savings numbers, it can be said with some degree of certainty how much specific fossil fuel infrastructure will cost to decommission, as well as the cost of other significant challenges in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

In addition to the cost of the GND, tens of millions of Americans are dependent on fossil fuel intensive industries for jobs, especially in oil and gas and related industries. Not only the several million Americans (6.4 M in 2017) working in fossil fuel industries,  but those working in fossil fuel-intensive industries (such as non-electric auto manufacturing), would be adversely affected by such a dramatic shift in public policy regarding energy. That said, it must be noted that there is more employment potential in the renewable energy jobs sector than fossil fuels.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) estimates that over $1 trillion  in gas and oil infrastructure (total) will be added in the US by 2035; added to what is already over a trillion dollar investment in oil and gas in America, making oil and gas by far the largest economic contributor to the economy of the United States (currently), as well as the largest sector of existing good paying middle class jobs (currently), especially when industries related to oil like non-electric vehicle domestic auto manufacturing are thrown in.

Therefore, it is economically counter-intuitive to promote the GND, which would make the transition from fossil fuels to renewables immediate, targeting the oil and gas industries, upon which the economy of America depends. Instead, the United States can use the market mechanisms of carbon pricing, subsidies for renewables, and strict regulations for fossil fuel industries, to transition the economy of the United States from fossil fuels to renewables.

The ideal transition for energy production and consumption would be fossil fuels to renewable energy. The most practical solution for an efficient transition that does not disrupt the economy is fossil fuels to invest in renewable energy plus natural gas, and renewable efficiency. However, as noted previously, API forecasts over $1 trillion in infrastructure investments for oil and gas in the United States for the next 15+ years, thus it is prudent to include oil, as well as natural gas and renewable energy, in energy plans going forward. The GND would disrupt, and possibly replace, the market system, seeking to eliminate all fossil fuels immediately. Instead, market mechanisms should be used in order to effectively and efficiently transition energy and financial markets from those based on fossil fuels, to those based on renewable energy.

The term "fossil fuels" here in this article, when described as an essential part of the American economy at present, applies only to oil and gas, not to coal. Coal is an old, 19th and 20th century means of energy that carries mostly negative factors, such as a high amount of negative externalities, making coal generally more expensive than renewables, after the LCOE and negative externalities are accounted for. Unless coal companies choose to invest in carbon capture and sequestration and/ or integrated gas combined cycle technologies to make coal more efficient, and cleaner to the environment and health of the public/ miners, it is not worth maintaining or investing in coal plants. See "natural gas vs. coal", and "What Makes a City Sustainable" for more on negative externalities of coal, and why gas is a better choice.

Topics for further exploration:

Wednesday

Wind, solar and other renewables offer considerably more employment potential than coal


Image result for chart energy jobs 2018

Coal provides middle-class Americans with less than 100,000 jobs. Wind/ solar/ renewable energy provides these same type of Americans with well over 500,000 jobs. This is true even in the middle of the country, the Plains states, the Midwest, and in the southern states. So, of course, Trump, the Trump administration, and Republicans in Congress will focus on increasing incentives for, and eliminating regulations for...the coal industry.


It is exactly this kind of backward thinking that has government eliminating regulations around the fossil fuel industry's habit of polluting the environment, as well as dismantling laws forbidding the fossil fuel industry from developing in national parks and the Arctic.

These harmful actions are a result of climate change denial, apathy concerning the environment, and the tremendous, ugly greed of Trump, and his goons in the White House, and Republicans in Congress. But these governmental policies are also a reflection of the republican voter-at-large who put these people in government.

It is time for both the United States government and the people in the public that vote these climate change denying, willfully ignorant, people into government positions, to open their eyes, and see facts for what they are: facts. The future of employment in the energy sector is obviously renewable energy, not fossil fuels. This article in Mother Jones sums it up perfectly:

Wind [and solar] farms—and the new jobs that come with them—have swept across the Midwest, where coal and traditional manufacturing gigs have vanished. (Despite what President Donald Trump will tell you, coal jobs started to disappear back in the 1980s, when the steel industry began to sink and utilities stopped building new coal-fired power plants.) 
In the "wind belt" between Texas and North Dakota, the price of wind energy is finally equal to and in some cases cheaper than that of fossil fuels. Thanks to investments in transmission lines, better computer controls, and more efficient turbines, the cost to US consumers fell two-thirds in just six years, according to the American Wind Energy Association. 
Still, not all windy states have a turbine-friendly climate. In Wyoming, for example, coal-loving legislators passed a tax on wind energy in 2010 and are also considering penalizing utilities for including renewables in their portfolios. 
The next few years will see a showdown between "rural Republicans who really want to get the economic boost [wind & solar, other renewables] offers to their district, versus Republican ideologues who don't like renewables because they like fossil fuels"—and whose campaign contributions depend on protecting them. 
So farmers—and voters —will have to fight for wind [and other renewables] which, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency,  offer the greatest potential for growth in US renewable power generation.
In his energy plan, Trump speaks of reviving the country's "hurting" coal industry and argues that sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America. 
We do—and those reserves could lead to hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coming years, and very few carbon emissions. And if Trump weren't so fixated on the sputtering coal industry, he might actually see them. (Article by Maddie Oatman - Maddie Oatman is a story editor at Mother Jones. Read more of her stories here, or catch her on MoJo's food politics podcast Bite.

The market for employment in many different sources of energy, in addition to wind and solar, in the renewable energy sector is impressive, as depicted in this chart from 2016:




Please see the Green City Times website on a set of public policy ideas to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions in order to address the problem of climate change.


Monday

Features of a plug-in hybrid car


Plug-in hybrids use roughly 30% to 60% less petroleum than conventional vehicle, and with the advanced drive designs in most cutting-edge hybrids, the fuel efficiency is up to 3x higher (or more). Especially in light of the historic COP21 conference in Paris, and the worldwide drive toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG's), hybrid cars are gaining global importance. Here are few things the driving public should know when deciding whether or not to buy a hybrid car:

The following quote is from auto.howstuffworks:

"In order to examine how plug-in hybrids' mileage compares to other cars, let's look at the plug-in hybrid cars currently on the market. One of the best examples is the Chevrolet Volt, which General Motors calls an "extended-range electric vehicle" but could also be described as a plug-in hybrid.
According to GM, the Volt gets 35 miles per gallon (14.9 kilometers per liter) in the city and 40 miles per gallon (17 kilometers per liter) on the highway. Those are decent fuel economy numbers, but they're not outstanding -- until you remember the Volt can drive up to 375 miles (603.5 kilometers) on electricity alone without using a drop of gas. For this reason, the EPA certifies the Volt's electric mode at 93 miles per gallon (39.5 kilometers per liter), or rather, equivalent miles per gallon [source: Chevrolet]. The all-electric Nissan Leaf has a rating of 99 miles per gallon (42.1 kilometers per liter). 
Because plug-in hybrids make such a strong use of their electric modes, it's tough to directly compare their gas mileage to that of other cars. The Volt's competitors, the hybrid Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, get 51 miles per gallon (21.7 kilometers per liter) city, 48 miles per gallon (20.4 kilometers per liter) highway and 40 miles per gallon (17 kilometers per liter) city, 43 miles per gallon (18.3 kilometers per liter) highway, respectively. "

The average reduction of the most environmentally harmful GHG's is 50% in hybrid cars vs. standard gasoline burning cars. Much of the public is well aware of how good the hybrid is for the environment, but are concerned about the safety of these cars. Autos with electric motors must adhere to guidelines detailed in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and typically require less maintenance than their gasoline-only-fueled counterparts. The batteries in the best-selling hybrid and electric cars, Tesla, the Chevy Volt, the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf, have historically failed in less than 0.01% of the cars. Also, the entire battery is recycled – when it does reach the end of its useful life, in the most advanced plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, as is the case with Tesla.
There are definitely a few other promising modes of sustainable transportation, but hybrid cars remain the best bet for the day-to-day needs of families that must continue to rely on cars as their primary means of transportation, and must commute over long distances, are not satisfied with local public transit options, or that have young children.   



Green City Times is a resource for urban planning, renewable energy, sustainable mass transportation, energy efficiency, green living and green building.
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Sunday

Permaculture, urban gardening, and urban agriculture

Permaculture




The simulation of natural ecosystems, both in agriculture and social design, has the potential to help reduce man’s carbon footprint on the earth. In working to maintain permanent agriculture and permanent culture similarly there is progress toward the sustainable goals created in many cities worldwide. Some fields of permaculture and urban gardening include Ecological Design, Ecological Engineering, Environmental Design, Integrated Water Resource Management and Sustainable Architecture. All of these professions work with nature rather than against; working toward the goal of sustaining both nature and society for future generations.
The depletion of the earth's resources due to the processes of mass production and consumption, inefficient waste management, and the destruction wrought on nature due to fossil fuel infrastructure development are reasons for the need of permaculture and urban gardening techniques in agriculture. The need to work with existing resources in order to save the environment, and people alike, is a goal that has many nations working toward carbon neutrality in agriculture, as well as eco-conscious techniques in agriculture to preserve biodiversity. Chemical fertilizers and other environmentally hazardous methods like pesticides, are the way of the past in agriculture. The future of gardening/ agriculture lies in sustainable methods like urban gardening (techniques that can easily be applied to larger scale agriculture/ farms).

Urban gardening

There are so many questions that may arise when there is the desire or need to plant a garden for a home or business, but limited space is available. The website Ecolife highlights the following major areas of focus in urban gardening:
  • "Container gardening: Common for people with small patios, yards, or balconies. Container gardening makes use of a variety of containers – buckets, old tires, raised beds, windowboxes, kiddie pools, barrels, shoes, and watering cans – for growing all manner of plants for food or beauty.
  • Indoor gardening: When no patios, decks, yards, or balconies are available, indoor gardening can also be an effective urban gardening method. Plants can be grown in containers similar to those in container gardening, as well as in indoor greenhouses or solariums (sunrooms).
  • Community gardening: This is a method of using outdoor public or private spaces to cultivate gardens for food or pleasure as a group and is a great choice for those with no yard or outdoor space.
  • Guerilla gardening: A more subversive form of urban gardening, guerilla gardening is a way of adding plants to public spaces that don’t technically belong to the gardener such as a vacant lot, median, beside a highway, or in little strips of dirt.
  • Greenroofs: Roofs designed with a growing medium for the purpose of cultivating plants are also a form of urban gardening and can be used to grow food, trees, and many other types of plants."

 
Please also see: "Green Building" on the Green City Times website



Wednesday

Sustainable City: CHICAGO

Sustainable City: CHICAGO 


Chicago


The dense city center of downtown Chicago has an extensive mass transportation network with 144 rail stations and over 100 bus routes. Chicago Transit Authority has been able to cut its GHG emissions by incorporating more energy efficient transit options even while expanding…but, overall, the city of Chicago is also still very green- 12,429 total acres of in Chicago (including land managed by the state and county, with 8,100 acres of that parkland managed by the city)- 8.5% of the land area of Chicago is park space open to the public. 

Chicago has benefited from green urban planning, and the City of Chicago has worked hard to put in motion plans to transform the city into one of the world’s brightest examples of a sustainable metropolis. A path to this goal is found in the 7 themes of “The Sustainable Chicago Action Agenda. These 7 main themes include- Chicago’s Climate Action Plan, Energy Efficiency & Clean Energy, Waste & RecyclingWaste & Wastewater, Transportation OptionsEconomic Development & Job Creation, and Parks & Open Space.

Chicago has developed a citywide Climate Action Plan that mirrors the goals of Chicago’s Sustainable Action Agenda. The Chicago Climate Action Plan includes climate change mitigation strategies featuring: energy efficient buildings, clean & renewable energy sources, improved transportation options, and reduced waste & industrial buildings.

One of the aspects of the plan the City of Chicago has been most successful at implementing, and a major part of that which makes Chicago a sustainable city, from an energy use standpoint, is developing sustainable energy efficient buildings; another is the city’s implementation of sustainable technology with regard to retrofitting buildings. With regard to LEED and Energy Star buildings, Chicago has the highest percentage (at over 65%) of LEED certified/ Energy Star certified office buildings among the top 30 real estate markets in the United States.

LEED stands for leadership in energy and environmental design, and certifies buildings that demonstrate excellence in the following categories: sustainable sites, location and transportation, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in design.

In order to make even more advancements in residential and business building’s energy and water efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with buildings in the citythe City of Chicago has launched Retrofit Chicago
Energy efficiency is a priority for strengthening Chicago— helping Chicago to be at affordable, modern, competitive, attractive, livable, and sustainable city. Retrofit Chicago’s energy efficiency pursuits help: 
  • Create Jobs  
  • Save Chicagoans money 
  • Improve air quality for workers in commercial buildings 
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Demonstrate Chicago’s environmental leadership"

City buildings in Chicago are to be powered by 100% renewable energy (100RE) by the year 2025. The city's Mayor Rahm Emanuel along with Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Park District and City Colleges of Chicago, hope that when the 100RE program for Chicago is fully implemented, the commitment would make Chicago the "largest major city" in the U.S. to supply its public buildings solely with renewable energy.  

The city of Chicago has initiated a Sustainable Development Division (SDD) to address sustainability concerns in the development of buildings in Chicago. 

The Sustainability Division provides technical assistance for [developers]...required to meet the City of Chicago's sustainability standards, specifically city-assisted projects [and] new planned developments...[Chicago’s] Sustainable Development Division promotes development practices that result in buildings that are healthier to occupy, less expensive to operate and more responsible to the environment than traditional buildings. Sustainable requirements involve various levels of LEED [and] Energy Star standards for energy efficiency...The policies are intended to improvepublic roadways and parks– [and create] a higher level of stewardship of local water, air, and land resources. The division promotes strategies that absorb stormwater on site, such asbioswalespermeable pavement and rain gardens, as well as green roofs. Green roofs help to keep rainwater out of overburdened sewer systems, reduce urban temperatures, improve the air quality in densely developed neighborhoods, and reduce a building’s energy costs." - Chicago SDD
Additionally, Chicago has created the Solar Express renewable energy initiative largely to advance green building in the city. The Chicago Solar Express is a public-private initiative to bring low-cost solar panels to the rooftops of Chicago- by cutting fees, streamlining permitting and zoning processes. Since 2012, the City of Chicago and ComEd have worked with private partners and the University of Illinois, under a grant from the DOE’s Sunshot Initiative, to lower cost barriers and reduce market prices of purchasing and installing solar PV for the city.

"By committing the energy used to power our public buildings to wind and solar energy, we are sending a clear signal that we remain committed to building a 21st-century economy here in Chicago," Mayor Emanuel said. The city of Chicago will achieve that commitment in a number of ways, including on-site generation and the acquisition of renewable energy credits (mostly wind and solar energy). Jack Darin, president of the Illinois Sierra Club supports the effort, "...by moving boldly to re-power its public buildings with renewable energy like wind and solar, Chicago is leading by example at a time when local leadership is more important than ever.”  from: https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/chicago-city-buildings-powered-100-renewable-energy/

These Chicago efforts in green building illustrate the success of Chicago Sustainability themes- substantially developing energy efficient buildings, and the retrofitting of buildings in Chicago to be LEED and Energy Star certifiedand Chicago Solar Express, as well as the widespread development of renewable energy to power buildings throughout Chicago, illustrates another sustainability theme- clean energy. 

In addition to energy efficiency and green building initiatives, the City of Chicago has developed ambitious recycling programs throughout the cityBy reducing Chicago’s waste and implementing various recycling programs, the city of Chicago is making an effort to conserve resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower its carbon footprint, and reduce space in areas surrounding Chicago currently needed as landfills. These are some of the programs offered by the city of Chicago to increase conservation in the city, especially focusing on Chicago’s recycling programs: 

  • Blue Cart Recycling  The City's Blue Cart program provides bi-weekly recycling services to single family homes and multi-unit buildings.  By recycling regularly, [residents of Chicago] can help reduce the need for landfills, lower disposal costs, reduce pollution and conserve natural resources, such as timber and water. Blue Cart Recycling includes almost every type of household waste, and had diverted over a half ton of waste from landfills in the first 10 months of 2018 alone.

In addition to robust citywide recycling program, the city of Chicago also has a well-developed mass transportation system. Chicago’s mass transit options include transportation offerings from the United States’ 2nd largest public mass transit system; the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), which operates bus and rail lines in the city, including 144 rail stations and over 100 bus routes. 

The city of Chicago is on the way to becoming a leader in sustainable transit. Chicago Transit Authority is committed to providing integral transit options that are greener and more sustainable. CTA is a huge contributor to the city’s sustainability movement because it helps to reduce vehicle emissions by replacing automobile trips with mass transit, reduces traffic congestion and enables compact development. Mass transit options include subways, commuter and light rail trains, L’cars, and buses. 


CTA has a goal to use 100% clean energy by 2035, and has been able to cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by over 10% annually by incorporating more energy efficient transit options while expanding its city fleet, and was able to recycle over 3 million pounds of material, over 90 vehicles in one year (2015) alone. 

The city of Chicago has 1,500 railcars with electric high-efficiency rails that function as low friction rails. L’cars are a new family of railcars equipped with innovative braking systems that can transfer electricity back to the third rail, which supplements power to nearby CTA trains. The City of Chicago has launched a significant sustainable mass transportation campaign in order to reduce GHGs, decrease transit costs for the city and its residents, and to increase efficiencies associated with transit; Chicago has 1,900 energy efficient buses that were converted to ultra-low sulfur diesel engines in March 2003, since 2007 any new buses acquired have been equipped with clean diesel engines, and Chicago plans to purchase an additional all-electric buses 

Chicago has also made an effort to promote its multimodal transportation.  That includes its Bike & Ride program. This program was established to improve bicycle access to bus routes and rail stations. In order to do that, the City of Chicago helpedevelop 6,000 Divvy bikes (Divvy bikes are part of a bike-sharing system run by the City of Chicago Department of Transportation), available for rent at 580 stations across the city. CTA has also worked with car-sharing companies to make for easier access between public transit and car sharing. The CTA’s multimodal integration addresses transit-friendly development by working with the City of Chicago and other municipalities to connect their services and destinations.

Another key sustainability initiative that is helping Chicago save money and resources is the city’s waste management program. New wastewater treatments are assisting in the recovery of essential energy, solids, and water. These resources are then recycled and transformed into assets that can generate revenue for the city, and protect the environment. The city has also installed 50,000 water meters through the MeterSave program, to help residents of Chicago conserve water and reduce water bills. The city has made a $50 million investment to clean and upgrade 4,400 miles of sewer lines, while also upgrading the built infrastructure, creating a cleaner, greener infrastructure. The City of Chicago is also investing in replacing and enhancing rooftops and roadways in the city to allow for stormwater to circulate back into the environment.  

Chicago plans to continue to replace or build new green infrastructure as well as replace many sewer mains in order to control stormwater accumulation in the sewers. Sitting next to Lake Michigan and atop a swampy marshy land, water management is crucial for Chicago to becoming a more sustainable and resilient city. With a history of water pollution and toxic city water, Chicago became one of the lead innovators of waste and water management by securing federal funding in 1970 to upgrade its treatment facilities as a result of the Clean Water Act. Chicago continues to lead by example while reducing its water usage and increasing its efficiency.  

Chicago is also keenly focused on developing sustainability training and jobs among the inner-city population- namely through its flagship program, Greencorps ChicagoGreencorps Chicago provides training and jobs in environmental conservation, as well as nature-area management careers, to Chicago residents with barriers to employment. The Greencorps Chicago Youth Program, which launched in 2013, provides paid, sustainability-focused summer jobs.