Cook County Honored for ‘Green’ Practices Undertaken By Preckwinkle Administration

Cook County has been honored for implementing sustainable principles and practices.

The County was among the recipients of the Governor’s Sustainability Awards, considered the “Emmy Awards for sustainability.” The award was presented by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. ISTC is a unit of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Under Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the County has adopted a data-driven approach to sustainability, with the aim of integrating green practices into the County’s day-to-day operations. Preckwinkle last year appointed a Green Leadership Team led by Chief of Staff Tasha Cruzat to oversee sustainability efforts.

“I have pledged to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050,” Preckwinkle said. “I am proud that we are ahead of target in reducing our own emissions from County buildings. The recognition given to Cook County by this award helps solidify our role as a leader for other local governments and the private sector.”

Cook County has worked hard to see results quickly.

Greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 11 percent between 2010 and 2014 using both large-scale capital projects and smaller projects focused on the specific needs of individual buildings.

A complete restructuring of the County’s vehicle fleet practices has resulted in significant fuel savings. For example, nearly 60,000 gallons of gasoline were saved between 2012 and 2013.

Additionally, Cook County has focused on waste reduction. More than a half-million tons of building material debris from demolition projects across the County – which has been the largest source of waste – have been reused or recycled. That’s a direct result of the county’s 2012 Demolition Debris Diversion ordinance, which has become a national model, Preckwinkle said.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Recycling Program, which recycled more than 2.3 million pounds of recyclables in 2014, was also honored. By comparison, in 2008, the year the program began, the sheriff’s department recycled 302,452 pounds.

ISTC presents the awards annually to organizations that demonstrate a commitment to environmental excellence through outstanding and innovative sustainability practices. Winners are selected through a rigorous process of review and examination by ISTC technical experts.

ISTC has presented the award since 1987.