CNT 2011 Policy Agenda Provides Sustainable, Economic Development Blueprint for City’s Next Leaders

CHICAGO (December 13, 2010)—A set of 22 policy recommendations released today make a case for how Chicago’s next leaders can apply sustainable development principles to strengthen the city’s economy. The Center for Neighborhood Technology’s “Investing in a Better Chicago” argues that investing in strategies that make the city more sustainable will also make the economy more productive and resilient. The CNT report calls for increased energy conservation, improved transportation options, prioritized development around transit nodes, and wide deployment of green infrastructure. All would save money, create jobs, conserve resources, and combat climate change.

“Sustainable development is economic development,” said Kathryn Tholin, CEO of CNT. “Now more than ever, Chicago needs leaders who champion policies that create jobs, increase residents’ incomes, are fiscally responsible, and protect the environment. Implementing these sustainability recommendations will help Chicago emerge from the current recession as home to the nation’s most productive place to live and work.”

Chicago has a reputation as a sustainable city, but it has unrealized potential when it comes to increasing the productivity of its urban economy. Realizing that potential requires investing in the assets that will make business, households and government run more cheaply and efficiently in the long term. Meanwhile, expensive inefficiencies force people to pay too much to conduct business and live their lives. The city’s future leaders can do their part to support Chicago’s long-term productivity by making sustainable development the guiding ethos of public decision making. CNT mailed each mayoral and aldermanic candidate a copy of its recommendations last week.

“The efficient use of resources is a basic tenet of good business, and it also applies to urban areas,” said Scott Bernstein, president of CNT. “That simple concept has driven CNT’s work for 32 years. We are committed to working with the city’s next leaders to help Chicago reach its full potential.”

“Investing in a Better Chicago” has four key strategies that call on the next mayor and City Council to:

  • Ramp up energy conservation with efficiency retrofits of the city’s buildings and other cost- and energy-saving measures.
  • Improve transportation alternatives, encourage development around transit, and champion Chicago’s rail assets so people and products can travel affordably.
  • Strengthen benchmarks and incentives to encourage value-enhancing green infrastructure to manage stormwater and avoid costly flooding to private property.
  • Reduce climate change emissions by pursuing the above strategies and implementing low-carbon, low-cost goals for municipal operations.

“Chicago is at risk of falling behind other regions and cities unless it takes additional steps to improve its productivity as an urban area,” said Jacky Grimshaw, CNT vice-president of policy. “By investing rather than spending, Chicago’s new leaders can position us to be the most productive, competitive, environmentally conscientious, livable and profitable city in America in the 21st century.”


Emily Robinson, Center for Neighborhood Technology,, 773-269-4043