Evanston Environment Board discusses specific implementation of CARP


Daily file photo by Allie Goulding

Jerri Garl at an Environment Board meeting in November 2017. Garl said the board would implement a Climate Action and Resilience Plan task force.

Yonjoo Seo, Reporter

Evanston’s Environment Board will create a task force to track the implementation of the Climate Action and Resilience Plan, a board member Jerri Garl announced Thursday.

“We want to find a common area in which all the various work implementing CARP comes together,” Garl said.

Approved by the City Council in 2018, CARP lays the framework for Evanston to, among other goals, become carbon neutral by 2050. Mayor Steve Hagerty formed a working group in 2017 to articulate the city’s commitment to climate action.

At the Thursday meeting, Garl outlined six areas of focus for CARP tracking: education and outreach, renewable efficiency, building efficiency, green infrastructure, urban canopy and green space, zero waste and transportation and mobility.

Garl said the group is developing an advisory board to determine climate change issues that most affect vulnerable communities and make a plan to transition to electric buildings.

City Council implemented the energy and water benchmarking ordinance, which requires Evanston’s large buildings to report their energy and water use to be made available to the public. The ordinance should help the city better implement CARP.

Kumar Jensen, the city’s chief sustainability and resiliency officer, said the due date to report water and energy use was extended because of COVID-19, but about 69 percent of building owners had already submitted data.

“It’s a really good sign that we have a high response rate,” Jensen said. “We have pretty good relationships to be able to have conversations with properties.”

Co-Chair Cherie Leblanc Fisher said the board may need experts to analyze city ties to fossil fuels. Finances on the municipal layer are more complicated, Fischer said.

Fisher said the board’s plans to divest from fossil fuels were “symbolic action unless they came up with a proactive strategy.”

The board also discussed the historic preservation of buildings in light of solar panel additions.

Board member Tom Klitzkie said the city needed to be sensitive to architectural structure when installing solar panels.

Klitzkie said the Preservation Commission would “(exhaust) every effort to minimize impact.”

Carlos Ruiz, the city’s preservation coordinator, said guidelines were needed to preserve historic buildings while also making them sustainable with solar panels and green roofs. Ruiz said he has tried to find flexible ways to make sustainable additions compatible with different types of buildings.

“For instance, a national historic landmark that has a tile roof facing south may be difficult to justify solar panels on the roof,” Ruiz said. “However, they can possibly put them in the (back).”

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