Green Pioneers On the Cutting Edge of 'Greening"

 Going green doesn’t have anything to do with choosing a natural paint color for your kitchen, or  planting herbs in your community garden. But the phrase can have many different  meanings across a broad spectrum. Turning off lights in rooms in vacant rooms  is a green move; installing a gigantic wind turbine in your backyard is a  bigger one. Communities throughout the Chicagoland area place green practices  and programming at different positions on their lists of priorities—and the steps they take depend on funding, community interest, feasibility and  other factors.  

 Green Priorities

 About 15 years ago, former Mayor Richard M. Daley started the ball rolling to  make Chicago the most environmentally-friendly city in the country. Today, the  Second City has become number one on the green scale: Chicago is one of the  world’s greenest and most livable municipalities supported by seven million square  feet of green roofs, an eco-friendly transit system, and more bikeways and  parks than any other American city.  

 Some Chicago-area condo communities have followed suit and make energy-saving  policies and programs a top priority for their building community. Residents  have jumped on the bandwagon with their own initiatives. Simple tweaks, such as  updating light bulbs and plumbing fixtures are a good start, says Jennifer  Easton, communications associate for the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in  Washington, D.C. Homeowners can also use recycled materials to make their home  more green, such as using salvaged wood when building a porch, setting up a  composting operation or building a rain garden.  

 Condo owners can also save on their electric bills while helping the environment  by sealing up cracks and gaps in their homes.  

 “It will reduce the amount of air that you have to heat and cool, which will save  you money,” says Peter Ludwig, energy efficiency programs manager at CNT Energy in Chicago.  “It also reduces the spaces where vermin enter and exit your home, reducing the  need for toxic pesticides and extermination costs.”  

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