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Evanston Green Ordinance deferred again

Emilia Barrosse and Emilia Barrosse

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After once again deferring the passage of the Evanston Green Ordinance, the City Council is still finalizing the ins and outs of an ordinance that has been in the works for three years.

The ordinance requires all new buildings and construction sites in Evanston to attain a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification of a silver rating or higher. The goal is to reduce chlorofluorocarbon emissions by 2013.

Ald. Lionel Jean-Baptiste (2nd) said although it is important to enact greener standards in Evanston, it must be done in a way that doesn’t create a disincentive for workers.

“For us to achieve the standards we want, we need those who will be doing the building feeling unconstrained,” he said. “We need to make sure that whatever we do doesn’t hurt us, yet still acknowledges development.”

Jean-Baptiste said although it may be ideal to pass the standards, raising building costs doesn’t make sense during the current economic downturn.

“When the economy allows for new development to go forward, we will cross that bridge and the developers will go into it and want to achieve the proper goal,” he said.

Jonathan Perman, executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, said he’s confident the city council will eventually reach an agreement with developers and pass the ordinance.

The builders who will play a significant role in enacting the ordinance must have their opinions heard as well, he said.

“We just need to make sure that all the people impacted are part of the discussion and that they’re able to work with a whole new set of regulations,” Perman said.

Ald. Jane Grover (7th) said passing the ordinance is only the first step in creating a greener, more sustainable Evanston.

“Getting it done is important, and keeping in mind that whatever ordinance is enacted is just the first step,” she said. “Evanston values sustainable buildings and renovation, and the ordinance is just one piece if the puzzle for how to reduce chlorofluorocarbon emissions in 2013.”

Although requiring builders to meet silver LEED standard may cost more, it will be much more efficient in the long-run, Grover said.

“They’ll have higher property value because they will work better and be more sustainable,” she said. “You can’t think of what’s best for today. Think of what’s best for tomorrow.”

Lowering the standards and watering down the bill is not the answer to the high costs, Ald. Coleen Burrus (9th) said.

The standards aren’t too stringent, and the ordinance should be passed immediately, Burrus said.

“In the long run, it will save money, but right now, people don’t want to spend the extra cash,” she said.

Despite the controversy surrounding the bill, the city council still considers sustainability a top priority.

“Evanston needs to be at the forefront of the green revolution,” Burrus said. “We say we’re progressive and that we want to be green, so we need to take a stand for it.”

emiliabarrosse2013@u.northwestern.edu

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