Why Illinois Leads In Sustainability
Illinois shocked the national sustainability scene earlier this year when it rose to the top of the US Green Building Council’s Top 10 States for LEED list, but locals were hardly surprised. (We can hold this over perennial winner Washington DC—since we certainly aren't beating them in sports at the moment.)
USGBC – Illinois Chapter executive director Brian Imus (snapped with AG Lisa Madigan) attributes the state’s success to two factors: policy makers who have made green building a priority (Rahm pledged to double the number of LEED buildings in Chicago), and locally based international companies (like Walgreens) that have made sustainability part of their business plans for a long time. As a national leader in sustainability, Illinois has the opportunity to export its green building know-how and technology to emerging markets (China, Middle East, etc.) hungry for best practices and LEED certifications, he tells us. That’s great news for local design, tech, and architecture firms, as well as our state’s economic development. Though the local challenge remains educating the general public on green building and what it really means for you/your building’s pocketbook, Brian says.
Here’s Walgreens' new Evanston location, the first net-zero energy retail pharmacy in the world. USGBC – Illinois will present the company with the Green Innovation award at its Limelight awards ceremony on May 15, and the store is already pushing Walgreens’ competitors to implement more sustainable practices and learn how they affect the bottom line, Brian says. He’s also busy educating local building owners and managers on Chicago’s new energy benchmarking ordinance (coming in June), which means some of the city’s largest buildings will have to publicly disclose their energy usage. The publicity should raise awareness and ultimately help buildings reduce usage and costs, Brian predicts. Now that it’s warming up, he can’t wait to explore Chicago’s many neighborhoods this summer. (Luckily, make one wrong turn and you’ll still hit a street festival.)