District 202’s new sustainability coordinator and E-Town Sunrise students work toward more sustainable future


Photo courtesy of John Crawford

John Crawford. Crawford is the new director of operations and sustainability coordinator at Evanston Township High School.

Aria Wozniak, Senior Staffer

Last April, students at Evanston Township High School walked out of class to demand their school hire a full-time sustainability coordinator. 

Four months later, the school announced John Crawford as the new Director of Operations and Sustainability.

Before he started as the sustainability coordinator, Crawford worked at the district for 25 years as an engineer, implementing efforts for energy efficiency. Now, he is in charge of all operations at the district, including engineering, maintenance, custodial duties, summer capital projects and sustainability.

“What I’ve been trying to do in the first few months I’ve been on the job is lay the brick work and the path towards achieving some really great things here,” Crawford said. “That is going through feasibility and assessment studies to see where we’re at, what we could actually do and where we have to move forward.”

Emmet Ebels-Duggan is the hub coordinator for E-Town Sunrise, an ETHS student organization for environmental activism. While students did not anticipate that Crawford would take on the additional position of director of operations, they are excited to work with him, Ebels-Duggan said. They said they know the position is a compromise but that it wouldn’t have existed without the students’ advocacy. 

“We were very pleasantly surprised by the way that Mr. Crawford has handled (the sustainability) part of his job,” Ebels-Duggan said.

Milo Slevin, the communications coordinator at E-Town Sunrise, said Crawford has been “amazing” and does “great work.” 

Slevin is a part of the E-Town Sunrise waste reduction committee. East cafeteria, one of four cafeterias at ETHS, has a composting station. He proposed to take the trash cans out of the area, since it is difficult to oversee the organization of waste to the correct bins. 

“(Crawford) was like, ‘Okay, I’ll have someone remove them tomorrow morning,’ so that’s how he’s operated,” Slevin said. “He’s been really great and wanted to work with us as students, which we always appreciate.”

Crawford said he also took the E-Town Sunrise students on a tour of the mechanical facility for heating and cooling systems last week. 

This facility contains a steam absorption chiller as a form of cooling to save energy. The machine runs at night when energy costs are lower. During the day, when the price of electricity is the highest, ice is melted to produce chilled water and cool the building. 

“One thing that Crawford has done for us is to be a transparent source of information,” Ebels-Duggan said.

Crawford also said he is in the process of converting the building’s lighting to LED. He said the school already has more than 3,000 LED lights and is more than halfway done with the transition. He also said he’s looking into the possibility of solar energy but is facing difficulty, as the campus has more than 144 different roofs. 

He said he is looking forward to continuing working with the students from E-Town Sunrise toward the district’s sustainability goals.

“They keep me on my toes, I love working with them and I think they appreciate what I do as far as energy-wise things,” Crawford said.

Clarification: This story has been updated to include Crawford’s official job title.

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