New Guidebook Lauds Local Projects for Sustainability - Metropolitan Planning Council

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New Guidebook Lauds Local Projects for Sustainability

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On top of making the Village of Matteson an environmental pioneer, the Village Hall and Green are saving taxpayers serious money. Local officials chose native prairie species for landscaping these sites, which will require less fertilization, irrigation, pesticide-use, and mowing — and save 52 percent in installation and maintenance costs. One of two dozen examples, the Village Hall is featured in the Campaign for Sensible Growth’s guidebook Sustainable Development: Meeting the needs of today’s communities and protecting the needs of the future , released today.

Sustainable development is an approach to urban and suburban growth that emphasizes preserving environmental resources, providing opportunities for residents at all income levels, and stimulating economic activity. The guidebook praises communities across northeastern Illinois for successful and sustainable projects, and provides models and resources to spark future efforts.

LaGrange is featured as an example of a growing trend among suburban municipalities trying to be more for residents than ‘bedroom’ communities. A redevelopment effort focused on its downtown business district has resulted in new restaurants and shops — for a total of more than 300 — in the area around its Metra station. This type of development stimulates the local economy, and makes the community a pleasant place to stroll and shop, improving local quality of life.

The Campaign for Sensible Growth endorses sustainable development because it accommodates growth while providing environmental, economic, and quality of life benefits to all residents, said MarySue Barrett, co-chair of the Campaign and president of the Metropolitan Planning Council. “It furthers the goals of the Campaign, which are to promote infill development and redevelopment, while protecting natural resources and providing opportunities to all residents of the region.”

Innovative housing trends, such as Chicago’s Historic Bungalow Initiative, are featured prominently in the guidebook. Geothermal heat, linoleum made with natural materials, and recycled drywall do not usually go along with an affordable price tag, but the program provides financial incentives to help residents buy and restore Chicago Bungalows, which not only preserves the environment, but also offers potential homeownership opportunities for many who otherwise might not be able to purchase a home.

The Campaign and the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC) worked together to produce both this guidebook and a longer series, Building Sustainable Communities . “The fact sheet series provides decision-makers with the knowledge and ideas to do these kinds of sustainable projects,” explained Ronald Thomas, Campaign co-chair and NIPC executive director. The guidebook, which serves as the executive summary of the series, highlights examples of sustainable development around the region, profiling local initiatives where development protects the natural environment, keeps the economy strong, and provides opportunities for residents across the economic spectrum.

The guidebook was unveiled at a panel discussion today moderated by John McCarron, Chicago Tribune urban affairs columnist and instructor at Northwestern University, and featuring Pam Daniels-Halisi, senior vice president, community development at the LaSalle Bank; Jason Navota, senior planner and project manager for Building Sustainable Communities at NIPC; Ksenia Rudensiuk, director of water protection, manager of the Blackberry Creek Watershed Program, and legal counsel, the Conservation Foundation; and Mark Steger, partner, Holland & Knight LLP.

The Campaign for Sensible Growth is an action-oriented coalition of 200 organizations working to promote economic competitiveness in the northeastern Illinois region while preserving open space, minimizing the need for costly new infrastructure and improving the livability of our communities.

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