Like many other U.S. cities working to create sustainability at the local level, Chicago's new program, Sustainable Backyards, creates a set of financial incentives for local homeowners to make their backyards all the bit more 'greener.' Switchboard's Kaid Benfield reports on the new program: "...the genius of it is that it's educational, participatory, and effective at the same time. Basically, the city provides financial assistance in the form of rebates that reimburse citizens for up to 50 percent of the cost of installing trees, native plants, compost bins, and/or rain barrels."
The City hopes sustainable backyards will help to reduce the heat-island effect, absorb more carbon dioxide, and slow urban runoff into overburdened sewers and water bodies. As Benfield notes, "Chicago was one of the cities profiled in NRDC's study of water pollution and green infrastructure solutions, Rooftops to Rivers II. NRDC's water program attorney Larry Levine says that 'stopping runoff with green infrastructure on private property is a crucial part in the solving [a] city's stormwater problems and improving the health of our communities.'"