Chicago goes green to attract residents, jobs

You’ve heard of green buildings, but green cities? Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley’s wants to evolve his hometown into the greenest city in America, according to the NY Times, and his environment commissioner, Sadhu Johnston says it best, “It’s not so much about saving the world. It’s more about using green technology to save $4 million here, or earn $10 million there, and make the city better by doing that.”

The Daley administration has put policy and $ where their mouth is:
– planted 500,000 trees;
– putting up the most energy-efficient, ecological municipal buildings in the country;
– provides developers with much faster permits if they construct green buildings;
– promised to obtain 20% of the electricity used by the city from clean and renewable sources;
– established a $600-million-a-year program to repair neighborhoods and city parks
– converted hundreds of abandoned, contaminated properties into desirable locations.

What happened since the green investment? The following results are certainly not to be directly attributed, but they did happen in the same timeframe:
– The city population increased by 112,000 people, including 16,000 downtown;
– Added tens of thousands of downtown jobs while its median income increased 12.6% in the 1990’s
– Prompted a high-rise housing boom
– Spurred a $9-billion-a-year visitor and convention industry

Also, a study shows that Millennium Park (pictured), Chicago’s new 24.5-acre answer to Central Park, was responsible for encouraging at least 25% of the 10,000 units of new housing nearby, and increased hotel, restaurant, shopping and entertainment sales by $190 million a year. Who says green investment doesn’t spur green returns?

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