Evanston celebrates being ‘Most Livable City’ in sustainability


Alice Yin/The Daily Northwestern

David Driskell, executive director of community planning and sustainability for Boulder, Colo., answers an audience question after his presentation on Boulder’s sustainability measures. His speech was part of an afternoon of celebrating Evanston’s achievements in reducing carbon footprints.

Alice Yin, Reporter

Evanston concluded Earth Month on Sunday afternoon with an “Evanston — The Most Livable City” celebration that looked at both its past triumphs and future prospects in sustainability.

The program was a joint effort sponsored by the city, Evanston Interreligious Sustainability Circle, Citizens’ Greener Evanston and other groups. Under the high ceilings of the great hall at the First United Methodist Church of Evanston, 516 Church St., the event drew about 100 people. The event has been hosted in the past by the Evanston ISC every few years, most recently in 2011.

“It’s always a good kind of state of the union of what’s going on,” said CGE member Nathan Kipnis, who attended the event. “It assesses our progress and looks at our goals moving forward.”

Evanston is one of the few communities in the nation to fulfill a pledge to meet the targets of the 2005 Kyoto protocol, CGE president Eleanor Revelle said during her introduction to the event. By shifting to 100 percent renewable energy for homeowners and small businesses, the city met its goal of reducing emissions by 13 percent last summer.

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz outlined Evanston’s path to becoming a greener community.

“We spend a lot of time focused on goals,” Bobkiewicz told The Daily. “Every once in a while it’s important to stop and say we’ve accomplished those goals, and we’re moving down the road on other goals.”

Evanston became the second city in the nation to be awarded a 4-STAR Community Rating last month through the Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating, which recognizes national excellence in sustainability. Breakthroughs such as recycling more than 9,000 tons and offering more than 32 miles of designated bike routes contributed to the honor, Bobkiewicz said during his keynote address at the event.

(Evanston sustainability coordinator talks city’s 4-star rating)

David Driskell, executive director of community planning and sustainability for Boulder, Colo., traveled to Evanston to speak at the event on Boulder’s vision on sustainability. Calling Evanston a “peer community when we look for our next challenge,” Driskell spoke about Boulder’s projects, ranging from a master plan for transportation to street tree installations.

“Any community has a lot to learn from other communities,” he said. “I was impressed (Evanston) has been able to implement the separated bike lines downtown.”

After the speeches, the event shifted to three breakout discussion groups on growing local food, green transportation and energy efficiency. The discussions started with a presentation from a local organization related to each cause, then proceeded to an informal audience discussion.

“Alternative energy, whether it be for hot water or electricity, is not rocket science,” said Ron Fleckman, a US Solar Network partner who led the breakout on alternative energy.

The city hopes to launch a new program to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2016, specifically targeting building and transportation emissions. Bobkiewicz said he is “really happy” the community continues to support efforts to undertake sustainability projects.

“I hope the event is part cheerleading, part reenergizing the base,” Bobkiewicz said. “These are the folks that care the most about sustainability issues in Evanston but also helped chart the course for the future.”

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