Ordinance marks progress for city

Emilia Barrosse

After more than three years of debate, the City Council finally passed the Green Building Ordinance last week, classifying Evanston as one of the few communities in the nation to adopt such progressive legislation, according to a city press release from Oct. 27.

The ordinance, which passed with amendments proposed by Ald. Donald Wilson (4th), ensures that developers meet silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification standards when undertaking large-scale construction projects. Should the developers not meet the standards, they will be subject to a penalty that follows a specific formula. The LEED certification means all large-scale buildings in Evanston will be more energy-efficient, and the ordinance will also contribute to the city’s goal of reducing chlorofluorocarbon emissions by 2013.

The ordinance passed by an 8-1 vote, with only Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) in dissent.

“We decided to take out parts (in the ordinance) relating to existing buildings because the ordinance needed to work to make sure it wasn’t deterring Evanston from making modest improvements on buildings,” Wilson said.

As one of the handful of communities in the country to achieve such high sustainability standards, Evanston is taking an important first step in tackling environmental issues with far-reaching legislation, said Martin Lyons, Evanston’s assistant city manager.

“Every chance we get to provide for a better use of our resources is good stewardship on the part of the city,” Lyons said. “We need to be leaders in this area.”Evanston residents feel the same way. Bea Rashid, an Evanston resident for more than 21 years, said the city is moving in the right direction with the passage of the ordinance.

“Evanston is the right kind of community to have this initiative,” Rashid said. “We have the potential to lead the way, and I am hopeful that it will have a positive effect and that we can be a leadership community.”

Sam Eckland, co-chairman of NU’s Students for Ecological and Environmental Development, said he is extremely pleased the ordinance finally passed.

“This is an important first step in establishing an environmentally-conscious city atmosphere,” the Weinberg senior said. “There’s no lack of activism in Evanston, and it deserves to be recognized as a very progressive city.”

However, despite Evanston’s accomplishments in sustainability, Eckland said there is still much more that can be done.

“We haven’t reached our peak,” Eckland said. “I’m still waiting to see recycling bins on every corner.”

The success of the ordinance has opened the door for more green legislation even outside the Evanston community, Wilson said.

“This will hopefully make other communities more comfortable with taking steps toward sustainability,” Wilson said. “I hope this will collectively set a tone that it was the right thing to do.”

Rashid said she also believes sustainability will catch on.

“Going green is contagious,” Rashid said. “People are really interested in being healthy and living healthy.”[email protected]