Is Chicago The New 'Green' American City?

<p>San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, whose city has typically been recognized for its environmental leadership, recently visited Chicago to observe the pioneering work of Mayor Daley in implementing green building principles and gather new ideas.</p>
March 21, 2007, 6am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"How had it transpired that California's environmentalist mecca would solicit Chicago, once such a powerhouse of industry, to guide the way to a green future?

San Francisco, named for the Christian patron saint of the environment, historically prides itself on a visionary spirit of environmental activism. John Muir launched America's conservation movement in the city a century ago when he founded the Sierra Club, which remains headquartered in San Francisco."

Writer Erik Gleibermann has "wondered what environmental lessons Chicago could teach this left coast haven. Like many Californians, I had retained a childhood image of Chicago as a gray metropolis, run on labor and sweat."

"While an aerial survey of the San Francisco skyline reveals primarily tar paper and gray, Chicago turned rooftop gardens into a public initiative beginning in 1999, when Daley piloted a landscaped garden atop City Hall. The garden has reduced storm-water runoff, and during hot weather it cools the roof. Today the city has more than 200 green roofs..."

"The city also has adopted The Chicago Standard, a green building construction code required of public projects. Developers who adhere to the standard receive speedier permit approval than those who don't.

Following Chicago's model, Newsom has issued a directive for new municipal buildings to meet sustainable development standards and for the city to speed its permit approval process for environmentally friendly building. Newsom also has created a director of city greening in the mayor's office modeled on a similar position in Daley's."

"I was tickled pink to have Mayor Newsom go back and emulate Chicago's greening plan," said Sadhu Johnston, Chicago's commissioner of the Department of Environment. "It's ... not what people expect."

"San Francisco and Chicago's unlikely collaboration can be an outstanding model for other major U.S. cities if Newsom and Daley challenge each other to push beyond visible demonstration projects toward deeper systemic change."

Thanks to Darrell Waller

Full Story:
Published on Sunday, March 18, 2007 in The Chicago Tribune
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