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Earth Day Approaching, President Preckwinkle Highlights Cook County’s Sustainability Accomplishments and Programs

Thursday, April 17, 2014
Special to
by Cook County

In celebration of Earth Day on April 22, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today announced a week of eco-friendly events and also highlighted the County’s sustainability initiatives over the past year. “Since I took office in 2010, my administration has given high priority to protection of the environment and investing in energy efficiencies,” Preckwinkle said. “Earth Day may be celebrated only once a year, but we in Cook County will continue to move the needle on programs and initiatives that support sensible and needed sustainable practices.” The Cook County Board on April 9 approved a resolution recognizing Earth Day and calling attention to the County’s commitment to sustainability. The resolution noted the County’s groundbreaking Demolition Debris Diversion ordinance and the recent Leadership Award given to the County by the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.

Related events and activities this week in recognition of Earth Day include:    

 *   The County’s Department of Environmental Control staff will participate in the Green Speakers Series at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights on Monday April 21. Further information at (708) 709-3764  

*   A pharmaceutical disposal station sponsored by the Department of Environmental Control will be available Thursday April 24, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in lobby of the George Dunne Administrative Building, 60 W. Washington. Accepted items include unwanted prescription medications with labels removed, over-the-county medications, medicated liquids and creams, and glass thermometers containing mercury.  

*   Cook County Annual Earth Day Parks and Preserves Cleanup, including Textile and Electronics Recycling, on Saturday April 26. Join the Forest Preserves of Cook County  and the County’s Department of Environmental Control at Whistler Woods in Riverdale, 480 Acme Drive, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a morning cleanup followed by a celebration with activities including art making, nature hikes and more.  

*   Earth Day Workday and Celebration at Deer Grove West Forest Preserve in Palatine on Saturday April 26. Cook County Chief Sustainability Officer Deborah Stone will speak on highlights of the County’s sustainability work. Work hands-on, removing brush to restore habitat in this beautiful oak woods. Sponsors include Friends of Deer Grove, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Openlands, Sierra Club Northwest Cook County Group and Friends of the Forest Preserves.  Meet at Deer Grove West Forest Preserve Grove #5 beginning at 9:00 a.m. Entrance is on the west side of Quentin Road, north of Dundee Road, in Palatine.  

*   Environmental Control will participate in Northbrook’s Earth/Arbor Day event on Saturday April 26 at the Northbrook Village Green, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. A radon awareness display will be on site and the County will offer information on home testing. Radon testing kits will be on sale at a discount.  Further information on testing your home for radon at (708) 865-6177 or go to In marking Earth Day and related activities, Preckwinkle pointed to specific programs put in place by her administration:    

*   Committing to a reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions from County facilities of 80 percent by the year 2050The projects – the largest of their kind ever attempted by a county government – are being funded with savings in energy costs.  

*   The County has released a Request for Proposals for energy performance contracts at its downtown office buildings (118 North Clark and 69 West Washington), Provident Hospital, suburban courthouses and highway district maintenance and headquarters buildings.  

*   Cook County granted over $12 million in federal Stimulus funds to suburban Cook County municipalities and other organizations for energy efficiency investments.  As part of this suite of projects, the County’s Department of Transportation and Highways has replaced incandescent bulb traffic signals with LED lights, reducing the energy bills for those fixtures by up to 70 percent.  

*   The County Board in January approved a Solid Waste and Recycling ordinance that grants Cook County the ability to increase recycling, prosecute fly-dumping and reduce the theft of metal and other valuable materials from public and private property.  

*   The Demolition Debris Diversion ordinance resulted in the recycling or reuse of almost 300 thousand tons of building materials from demolitions and renovations in Suburban Cook County in its first year of implementation, and throwing away less than 20 thousand tons. This program won the Walnut Gavel award for progressive policy from the Building Materials Reuse Association earlier this year.

President Preckwinkle formed a Sustainability Advisory Council in 2012 to help develop innovative solutions and resources for sustainability programs that foster energy efficiency and decrease pollution. The Council, co-chaired by ComEd President/CEO Anne Pramaggiore and Chris Kennedy, chairman of Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises, returned its first report last year, which set forth a roadmap for the County to greatly increase sustainability, not only for its own facilities and operations, but also for all the 130 municipalities in the County, as well as residents and businesses.

A progress report on the County’s sustainability programs is expected later this year. “Through aggressive engagement around issues of sustainability, we are creating a model that other counties and local governments can use to positively impact the environment and build sustainable communities now and for future generations,” President Preckwinkle said. “I’m proud the County is in the forefront of applying workable, homegrown data-driven solutions to the problems which impact us all.” For more information or to learn about other recycling events and environmental initiatives, contact the Cook County Department of Environmental Control at 312-603-8200 or visit or

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