Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced today the formation of the Cook County Sustainability Advisory Council (CCSAC) which will be co-chaired by Anne Pramaggiore, President and CEO of ComEd, and Chris Kennedy, past President of Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
The Sustainability Advisory Council is tasked with working with President Preckwinkle, the Cook County Department of Environmental Control and other County departments to put forward innovative solutions and resources for sustainability programs that foster energy efficiency and decrease pollution. The CCSAC will focus on several key areas, including energy efficiency, sustainability program financing, partnership building and information sharing to improve sustainability initiatives throughout Cook County and strengthen the County’s role as a service provider and leader of sustainable practices. President Preckwinkle wants Cook County to lead by example by promoting more livable and sustainable communities.
“I am asking the Sustainability Advisory Council help us do nothing less than establish Cook County as a world-class model of sustainability, efficiency and conservation,” said Preckwinkle. “I urge Council members to ask tough questions and to think outside the box in setting goals for sustainability. This Council should be a catalyst for policies that will make Cook County environmentally, socially and economically sustainable now and for the long haul.”
Cook County has already pursued energy-saving programs such as Wattage Wars, partnering with ComEd and tapping into the creativity of its own employees to save energy. The County also put in place contracts for investment-grade energy audits of the corrections and hospital campuses, which together account for about 90% of the County’s building energy use.
“ComEd worked with President Preckwinkle last year to help the County identify more than $2.4 million in potential annual energy cost savings,” said Anne Pramaggiore. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue this partnership to promote innovative solutions that will save taxpayers money and help them reduce their impact on the environment.”
The President and the CCSAC are prepared to aggressively pursue the next steps in this effort, including benchmarking all County facilities for energy use and efficiency, to see how the County stacks up against others, help us target key facilities for investments, set aggressive goals for improvement and continue a commitment to transparency. The County will also continue to aggressively pursue grants and other alternative financing mechanisms for needed sustainability improvements while partnering with local communities to address environmental and sustainability issues that cross political boundaries.
“We cannot afford to wait for others to take a leadership role when it comes to sustainability and a greener, stronger economy,” said Chris Kennedy. “I look forward to working with President Preckwinkle to make Cook County a leader in this vital field.”
The CCSAC will meet throughout the year and produce an annual report detailing its activity while providing recommendations for the future. The Department of Environmental Control will also start tracking overall sustainability measures within their regular performance management reports as part of President Preckwinkle’s Set Targets, Achieve Results (STAR) Initiative.