Recently the city of Chicago was honored as one of two exceptionally green US cities to be shortlisted for UN-Habitat‘s 100 Cities Initiative. The project aims to give cities, governments, and even individuals a voice in order to teach the world how we can make urban areas operate with less environmental impact. Chicago was chosen for its work over the past two decades to address climate change and build a better future — read on for a look at the windy city’s many green initiatives!
The 100 Cities Initiative website outlines a sustainable history of Chicago that dates back to 1989, when Mayor Richard M. Daley launched a campaign to plant more than 500,000 trees. The list also includes the Bike 2000 plan that established 114 miles of bike lanes and 50 miles of trails, in addition to the installation of 10,000 bike racks. The Chicago Brownfields Initiative was adopted in 1993, which returned 900 acres to productive use that continue to be a focus for urban farming and composting programs today. In 1999, the City installed its first alternative fueling station to power its municipal fleet.
After the turn of the century, in 2001, the City Hall Rooftop Garden officially opened which added to the more than 7 million square feet of green roofs in Chicago. Even the Willis Tower (Formerly Sears Tower) got a green roof last year. The Green Alley Program, implemented in 2007, offered residents a better way to manage stormwater in city alleys. As of 2009 over 15,000 residential units and 400 businesses had been retrofitted for energy efficiency as a part of the Chicago Climate Action Plan which was kicked off only a year prior.
The full list of notable sustainable bullet points is beyond laudable. The 100 Cities Initiative even calls Chicago the “nation’s laboratory for studying ways to reduce the ‘urban heat island’ effect.” It is clear that the world will be looking to Windy City to continue leading by example in the years to come.