The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus announced that 95 Chicago-area communities that are members of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus have signed the Greenest Region Compact (GRC). These communities will use the GRC as a guide to implement local actions that together will promote sustainability across the region with an emphasis on creating healthy, thriving communities.
The GRC represents consensus goals that build vibrant and strong communities, and sustain healthy environments for people and nature. The common goals and practical strategies in the Greenest Region Compact come from an extensive study of what the 275 Metropolitan Mayors Caucus communities are already doing to be sustainable and what sustainability goals they have already set for themselves. Mayors contributed to and agreed to support these goals, tailored for municipal action, in ten areas that include climate, economic development, energy, land, leadership, mobility, municipal operations, sustainable communities, water, waste and recycling.
One of the goals of the GRC framework titled “Sustain a Robust Urban Forest Canopy” is the goal “Harvest and utilize high-value wood products from trees that must be removed.”
“Mayors and community leaders really put their heads together to come up with the Greenest Region Compact. Now, communities of all sizes can benefit from this collaborative planning effort and leap ahead to take meaningful actions,” said Edith Makra, Director of Environmental Initiatives at the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus.
The Greenest Region Compact assembled practical, achievable and meaningful strategies into a companion guide: the GRC Framework. This tool enables communities to evaluate their current environmental initiatives and guide future efforts. Communities that have adopted the GRC are now working together towards these common goals, using the GRC Framework to guide and track their progress.
Examples of collaborative efforts include:
Goal – Advance Renewable Energy: A national designation program, SolSmart recognizes communities that remove local barriers to solar energy and help grow solar markets. The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus led 12 GRC Communities and three counties to work together to earn SolSmart designation by streamlining local permitting, planning and zoning procedures, to make it faster, easier and more affordable for residents and businesses to go solar. Earning SolSmart designation helps municipalities prepare for solar development, an industry that is expected to grow in Illinois by 2,600 percent by the year 2030 because of a new state law.
Goal – Beautiful Landscapes That Are Good For The Environment: The remarkable and beautiful monarch butterfly is endangered and new habitat is needed to protect them. GRC Communities are helping to restore the monarch butterfly by creating landscapes where milkweed—a plant vital to the monarch’s survival—can thrive. These landscapes support other native plants that provide nourishment and shelter for other important pollinator insects and birds. Twentysix GRC Communities are working with volunteer groups to create pollinator habitats along railroad tracks, in subdivisions, in parks and around schools and municipal buildings. These gardens bring together residents of all ages to learn, work together and even enjoy honey from community apiaries such as those in Hanover Park and Westmont.
Goal – Energy Efficiency: Forty-four GRC Communities upgraded their own public facilities to reduce consumption of energy. To save energy and reduce carbon footprint, these communities switched lighting fixtures, upgraded ventilation, heating and cooling systems to maximize performance and energy efficiency. The Village of Schaumburg upgraded to high-efficiency lighting systems throughout their municipal facilities—from fire stations and Village Hall to the Schaumburg Airport to save at least $150,000 each year in energy costs. River Forest replaced nearly 900 streetlights with energy-saving LED fixtures, saving 638,000 kW hours a year—enough to power 70 homes for a year. The total energy savings by all GRC Communities working together sequesters 23,802,023 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2). That is the amount of CO2 captured by 12,717 acres of US forests in one year.
About Metropolitan Mayors Caucus
The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus is a membership organization of the Chicago region’s 275 cities, towns and villages. Founded in 1997, the Mayors Caucus pushes past geographical boundaries and local interests to work on public policy issues. The Caucus provides a forum for metropolitan Chicago’s chief elected officials to collaborate on common problems and work toward a common goal of improving the quality of life for the millions of people who call the region home. For more information, visit http://mayorscaucus.org .
About Greenest Region Compact
The Greenest Region Compact (GRC) promotes sustainability in Chicago communities across the region with an emphasis on building strong and vibrant communities. The foundation of the GRC are 49 high-level goals that have been reached by consensus; not only are the goals aligned with important local, regional, national and global goals, but they also have support from 95 communities that have adopted the GRC. GRC consensus goals guide municipal action, support mayors in their role as environmental leaders, and foster collaboration that will have positive impacts on the region. For more information, visit http://mayorscaucus.org/initiatives/environment/rec.
The GRC Communities are: Algonquin, Algonquin Township, Alsip, Arlington Heights, Aurora, Bannockburn, Barrington, Batavia, Beach Park, Blue Island, Bolingbrook, Braidwood, Brookfield, Buffalo Grove, Burlington, Campton Hills, Carol Stream. Carpentersville. Cary, Chicago, Chicago Heights, Chicago Ridge, Countryside, Crete, Crystal Lake, Darien, Diamond, Elgin, Evergreen Park, Flossmoor, Fox Lake, Frankfort, Franklin Park, Geneva, Glencoe, Grayslake, Hainesville, Hanover Park, Hawthorn Woods, Hebron, Highland Park, Hillside, Hoffman Estates, Homer Glen, Indian Head Park, Island Lake, Johnsburg, La Grange, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Lakewood, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Lincolnwood, Lombard, Long Grove, McCullom Lake, Midlothian, Minooka, Mokena, Mount Prospect, Naperville, Niles, Northfield, Northlake, Oak Brook, Oak Forest, Oak Park, Olympia Fields, Orland Park, Oswego, Palos Hills, Palos Park, Park Forest, Park Ridge, Plainfield, Polo, Posen, Richton Park, River Forest, Rolling Meadows, Round Lake Beach, Schaumburg, South Barrington, South Chicago Heights, Streamwood, Sugar Grove, Thornton, Waukegan, West Chicago, Westchester, Westmont, Wheeling, Winnetka, and Worth.