Reflection on Maurie Gamze’s Contribution To the Center for Neighborhood Technology
Maurie was a truly unusual engineer. He was an innovator. When he woke up in the morning, the questions he asked himself were: How can we use less energy? How can we generate electricity more efficiently? How can we invent something new?
In 1981, Maurie joined the Chicago Energy Commission, a blue ribbon panel sponsored by the Center for Neighborhood Technology and Business and Professional People in the Public Interest. Maurie was that rare engineer that was interested in public policy. He helped frame an economic development agenda for Chicago around energy conservation. This is something that is only now, more than 25 years later, getting the attention it deserves.
During the same period, Maurie and Scott Bernstein, the founder of CNT, identified the Union Station Steam Plant, at Roosevelt Road and the Chicago River, as an opportunity for innovation. Why not turn this 1920s-era steam plant into a state-of-the-art cogeneration facility that generates steam, electricity, and chilled water – and become the comprehensive energy source for the building along the Amtrak right of way?
In 2003, when Maurie retired from his firm, he joined the staff of CNT and started working in earnest to bring this vision to fruition. It hasn’t happened yet, but we remain optimistic that it may yet happen.
In CNT’s 30 year history, Maurie is the only engineer who embraced the organization’s mission and became a partner in reinventing our city and region. Where other engineers were happy to repeat the same installations over and over, Maurie wanted to invent something new.
We will remember Maurie as a thinker, an inventor, a co-conspirator and a true believer in a healthy sustainable future for our children and grandchildren.