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Environment and Sustainability

Image of roof solar field

Mayor Emanuel believes that sustainability and economic growth go hand in hand. By increasing the efficiency of buildings and transportation, Chicago saves money, conserves resources and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. During his two terms in office, Mayor Emanuel has directed historic investments in energy efficiency, environmentally-friendly transit options and green infrastructure that will create jobs and improve residents’ quality of life. Mayor Emanuel also made the air cleaner for residents by closing the last two coal-fired plans in the city and cracking down on petroleum coke facilities on the Southeast Side.

  1. Chicago has doubled down on reducing emissions while also growing the city’s economy. During his second term in office, Mayor Emanuel issued an Executive Order committing Chicago to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2025, matching the original commitment made in the Paris Agreement. The city has already achieved 40 percent of its Paris Agreement carbon goal and increased the number of associated jobs by seven percent.

  2. In 2017, Mayor Emanuel convened the North American Climate Summit, bringing together leaders from across the globe to sign the Chicago Climate Charter and to commit to the fight against climate change.

  3. Mayor Emanuel released Resilient Chicago, the city’s first-ever resilience strategy and a roadmap for addressing the city’s most pressing challenges. Resilient Chicago was developed in partnership with local residents, civic and community leaders and a Steering Committee and offers a blueprint of immediate and long-term actions to better equip Chicago to face the challenges of the 21st century.

  4. In 2016, Mayor Emanuel announced that all city buildings will use 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy by 2025, the largest commitment made by any city in the United States. The commitment also extended to buildings community-wide by 2035 and to a fully electric CTA bus fleet by 2040. Formalized through a City Council resolution in April 2019, Mayor Emanuel’s commitment makes Chicago the largest city in the country to commit to renewable energy on this scale.

  5. On his first day in office, Mayor Emanuel initiated a process for closing the last two large coal-fired power plants in the city. Within a year, an agreement had been reached to retire the power plants. Moreover, the city issued the most comprehensive set of regulations in the country regarding petcoke and manganese storage and handling.

  6. In 2013, Mayor Emanuel introduced a transit-oriented development ordinance which is creating opportunities for more housing to be developed near transit, supporting affordability and walkability. Mayor Emanuel has led two major revisions to the ordinance since, extending incentives to high-frequency, high-capacity bus corridors.

Read more about the Environment and Sustainability progress made over the last eight years.