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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle released the 2021 Cook County Sustainability Report on Friday, April 22, highlighting the county’s efforts to support healthy and resilient communities that thrive economically, socially and environmentally.

Since 2010, emissions from county-owned buildings have been reduced by 40%, according to the report. In 2020, the county’s overall operations emissions were down 10.7% from the previous year.

“Climate change is an urgent threat to us all, but especially to underserved communities and communities of color,” Preckwinkle said. “The progress outlined in this report in addition to future investments that center around sustainability, represent a big step forward in our fight against climate change.”

The county committed more than $100 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for future sustainability initiatives throughout Cook County. The County’s Policy Roadmap is helping guide these investments.

“Our future contributions to sustainability and a just environment for all residents of Cook County are receiving a significant boost thanks to President Preckwinkle,” said Deborah Stone, director of the County’s Department of Environment and Sustainability. “Investing in initiatives that create a healthier and greener County will benefit generations to come.”

The County’s goals to fight climate change overall includes achieving a 45% reduction in carbon emissions and using 100% renewable electricity by 2030 in County-owned facilities and making them carbon neutral by 2050.

“The County seeks to be a leader in renewable energy, and that’s why we are purchasing a large portion of our electricity supply from a renewable source in the immediate future,” said Jamie Meyers, energy manager for the County’s Bureau of Asset Management. “We hope our actions inspire other governments and private companies to find new ways to drive down greenhouse gas emissions and take bold, actionable steps towards sustainability.”

The County managed a robust process to develop a responsible, comprehensive and equitable spending plan to support both immediate recovery needs and long-term transformative initiatives.

The most notable environmental initiatives that will receive funding include:

  • Increasing electric vehicle charging stations throughout Cook County, primarily in the south and west suburbs where there are large gaps in service.
  • Expanding the brownfield program to improve vacant or underutilized sites that have real or perceived environmental issues which deter redevelopment for jobs and businesses.
  • Removing and replacing lead, leaking and obsolete water service lines in high-risk communities, including individual homes and facilities such as preschools, daycare centers, home daycare providers, group daycare homes, parks, playgrounds, hospitals and clinics.
  • Providing stormwater management and identifying flood mitigation projects in communities that experience significant flooding.
  • Preserving and restoring public areas to promote health through the acquisition of 500 acres from willing sellers in the southeast suburbs.

Cook County’s Sustainability Report looks at what the County has done to make its internal operations more sustainable as well community initiatives.

Highlights from the 2021 Annual Sustainability Report include:

  • Launching the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program to provide favorable financing to commercial and industrial properties investing in energy and water efficiency, clean energy and resiliency.
  • Winning a 2021 National Association of Counties Achievement Award for the Clean Energy Plan, which details the County’s path to carbon neutrality.
  • Developing the Cook County Bike Plan, which will focus on expansion, equity and enhancement.
  • Reducing water use in county-owned buildings by 5.3% from the previous year.
    Seeking to purchase a large portion of the county’s electricity supply from a renewable source by 2023.

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