The Climate Group launches Forward Chicago

24 February 2009

Bold, new public-private partnership launches series of neighborhood environmental initiatives that help tackle climate change and offer quality of life benefits for the City of Chicago

The Climate Group, in collaboration with Chicago 2016 and the City of Chicago (a member of The Climate Group), today officially launches Forward Chicago, a unique public-private partnership that engages leading area businesses and local, non-profit organizations.

By bringing together the resources and expertise of the public and private communities, Forward Chicago seeks to help the city achieve its greenhouse-gas emissions reduction targets, "green" the bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and leave an environmental legacy for all Chicago residents.

"Forward Chicago is a unique public-private partnership that brings together Chicago's corporate and non-profit communities to support our Climate Action Plan, make our 2016 Olympic bid the greenest ever and help improve the quality of life for all Chicagoans," said Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

"This effort seeks to help the city achieve its greenhouse-gas emissions reduction targets by combining the resources and expertise of leading Chicago-area businesses, non-profit organizations, the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee and the City of Chicago. I want to thank all of our partners who have helped us get Forward Chicago up and running. And I encourage other businesses to get active with this program."

In June 2008, The Climate Group and Chicago 2016 introduced 21st Century Green Centers, geographically targeted areas surrounding proposed Olympic and Paralympic venues, a concept that was born out of Chicago 2016's environmental advisory council. Forward Chicago furthers this initiative by providing an ongoing platform for the program's partners and participating companies to work collaboratively to make Chicago the greenest, most environmentally friendly city in the country.

Companies that have signed on as Forward Chicago Founders include Motorola, Exelon, Allstate, Abbott, Baxter International Inc., HSBC-North America, ComEd, MWH and Corn Products International, Inc. Forward Chicago non-profit and government Partners include the City of Chicago, Chicago 2016, Chicago Public Schools, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Friends of the Chicago River and ICLEI .

"The environment has always been a top priority for the City of Chicago, the bid committee and the Olympic Movement, and we want to continue to employ innovative programs and become a model for our country and beyond," said Lori Healey, president of Chicago 2016.

"The powerful combination of business, non-profit and government partners will heighten the development of 21st Century Green Centers around the proposed Olympic and Paralympic venues."

"We are pleased to work with the City of Chicago, Chicago 2016 and our other Forward Chicago partners to advance the corporate community's commitment to Chicago's Climate Action Plan," said Michael Allegretti, The Climate Group's Head of Government Relations, North America.

"Through this ongoing partnership, we look forward to helping Mayor Daley achieve his ambitious plans to reduce the city's greenhouse emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020, and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050."

Based on existing research, Forward Chicago has identified the three major environmental challenges facing Chicago's neighborhoods: urban heat island effect, open space and greening and flooding. Each 21st Century Green Center will feature business and non-profits working together, focusing on various sustainability initiatives that support Mayor Richard M. Daley's ambitious plans to make Chicago the most environmentally friendly city in the country.

Forward Chicago's Founding companies will be supporting the following initiatives in and around the 21st Century Green Centers: Through Forward Chicago, Abbott is sponsoring the City of Chicago's $800 Challenge, an environmental initiative that empowers Chicagoans to take ten easy steps to reduce emissions and save up to $800 or more at the same time.

Exelon volunteers will work with Friends of the Parks to plant trees in Washington Park that will displace nearly two metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Motorola will install solar panels on two public schools, supplying the schools with up to 3 Kilowatts of green energy per year. Information about these renewable energy systems will be incorporated into the students' curriculum to provide hands-on, experiential learning opportunities.

Forward Chicago Founders including Allstate, Baxter, Corn Products International and ComEd will be supporting Chicago Public Schools by sponsoring student environmental clubs and working with students to build school "raingardens" that minimize flooding and provide green outdoor learning environments.

n the Ryan Field 21st Century Green Center, HSBC's employee volunteers will build a rain garden that employs native plant species to alleviate runoff into the Chicago River and reduce field maintenance costs.

MWH will develop an implementation plan for new "stormwater landscapes", which utilize vacant land to detain urban runoff and increase overall permeability to reduce the load on the city's sewer system - the main cause of Chicagoan's flooding complaints.

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