Chicago: Paving the way to a Greener Future

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One of Cohesion’s many goals is creating a sustainable future for commercial real estate. According to the EPA commercial real estate accounts for 16% of US carbon emissions, and 30% of the energy used in these buildings is wasted.

The Paris Climate Agreement has provided sustainable goals for cities all over the world to reduce pollution emissions. The international treaty was adopted in 2015 and covers climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance. The Agreement includes 192 parties that work together to adapt to the impacts of climate change and calls on countries to strengthen their commitments over time.

The U.S. has set a goal of cutting 2005 carbon emission levels by 50% or more by 2030. Here is what Chicago has done to tackle this environmental problem and where it stands today on reaching those goals.

Chicago:

With the stability of agriculture and health of the Great Lakes at risk, Chicago has a major responsibility in implementing sustainable and climate reducing strategies. In 2017, responding to the void of federal leadership on climate, Chicago formally committed to the Paris Climate Agreement. In 2019, the City Council agreed to transition to 100% clean renewable energy for all buildings across the city. Today, Chicago is 59% of the way to reaching its Paris Climate Agreement commitments. In the 2022 budget, Chicago is making history with its largest, one-time climate investment of $188 million invested as a part of the Green Recovery Agenda. These investment are focused on four key areas:

  • $75 million for community and environmental justice, targeting community anchor buildings
  • $46 million in equitability growing the tree canopy, with a goal of planting 15,000 trees every year
  • $41 million in energy and equity including a pilot industrial community solar project
  • $26 million in green infrastructure, developing 20 resilient schoolyards, investing in flood-vulnerable neighborhoods and other flood mitigation projects

Chicago is leading the way to a greener future with these innovative, methodical initiatives. As a diverse city, it’s commendable that the Green Recovery Agenda focuses its efforts on a neighborhood-level approach with an understanding that each community has its own needs, resulting in a citywide change.

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