35 Years of Sustainability: A Timeline of CNT

In addition to the timeline below, check out 35 Facts from CNT’s 35 Years on our blog, and the booklet People, Places + Progress: Celebrating 35 Years of Community Innovation. 

Solar Panels

1977
First organizational meeting; mission adopted.
1978
The Neighborhood Works (TNW), an information resource about alternative strategies for developing local economies and neighborhoods, begins 20-year publication run.
1978
TARP Impact Project discloses costs, impacts and community-based alternatives to Deep Tunnel, resulting in scaled-back project that saves taxpayers $8 billion.
1980
Fourth solar greenhouse built in low-income Chicago neighborhood.
1982
Public debate about proposed Chicago World’s Fair begins via The Neighborhood Works and Chicago 1992 Committee, leading to Fair’s abandonment in 1985.
1983
Neighborhood Nonprofit Energy Program, a $7 million energy conservation program funded by Amoco Foundation, begins work that yields combined yearly savings of over $1 million to 170 nonprofit facilities.
1983
Chicago Energy Commission, a project of CNT and Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, releases far-reaching plan to reduce citywide energy costs by 25% and boost local economy.
1984
Chicago Energy Savers Fund starts financing $17 million in energy conservation loans for 12,000 units of multi- and single-family housing.
1984
Housing Abandonment Task Force issues 30+ recommendations for conserving Chicago’s affordable housing, yielding programs and organizations that address equity financing, energy conservation financing, housing cooperatives and public access to housing information.
1985
Industrial Development Project first analyzes job retention in the food processing and metal finishing industries, the works with small manufacturers to secure environmental compliance, earning award from National Metal Finishers Industry.
1986
Working Neighborhoods: Taking Charge of Your Local Economy wins Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headline Club.

CTA Train

1986
Chicago Electric Options Campaign opens public debate about the future of electricity in Chicago and later organizes referenda in wards across city calling for choice in electricity providers.
1986
Coalition for Appropriate Waste Disposal wins first ban on landfill expansions in Chicago, still in effect today, and later secures passage of Chicago’s first recycling ordinance; evolves into the Chicago Recycling Coalition.
1987
Former weaving factory rehabbed into CNT office space, becoming Illinois’ first intentionally non-toxic, energy-efficient building.
1988
Neighborhood Early Warning System (NEWS) makes housing data on Chicago properties, and later Cook County, widely accessible using indicators of potential abandonment.
1990
Lake Calumet Airport Network elevates public debate about a proposed airport for Chicago’s Southeast Side, leading to its demise.
1990
Surface Transportation Policy Project (STPP), today’s premiere national transportation coalition, co-founded by CNT, and in 1991 turns pending federal highway bill into comprehensive transportation bill. 
1990
Campaign for Responsible Ownership amends Illinois Constitution to end slum landlord abuse of property tax system.
1991
Amoco Fund for Neighborhood Economies makes $2.3 million in grants and loans to eighty-four grassroots organizations in Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Houston, and Northwest Indiana.
1992
Sustainable Manufacturing Program receives Environmental Achievement Award from Renew America.
1993
Chicago Mutual Housing Network spins off to promote resident-controlled and managed housing and has preserved over 2,000 units of housing to date.
1995
Chicagoland Transportation and Air Quality Commission (CTAQC), over 180 organizational members strong today, completes first Citizen Transportation Plan as blueprint for regional transportation investments.
1995
The Greener Cleaner, an environmentally friendly “dry” cleaner, opens shop in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood using CNT-evaluated “wet” cleaning technology.
1996
Interreligious Sustainability Project, now an independent nonprofit, Faith in Place, engages diverse Chicagoland religious traditions around environmental sustainability; publishes One Creation, One People, One Place.
1997
The Metropolitan Initiative holds forums in 12 regions around the country to spark creative federal-regional partnerships; evolves into pilot programs in Denver, Chicago, Atlanta and Bay Area.

Raingarden

1998
UPASS Program with Chicago Transit Authority offers nation’s first multi-college unlimited-ride transit pass to students of 23 local colleges and universities.
1999
Location Efficient Mortgage®, developed with STPP and Natural Resources Defense Council, converts transportation savings from living in transit-rich areas into increased home buying power.
1999
Using the Hidden Assets of America’s Communities and Regions offers new framework for thinking about urban areas.
2000
LEGInfo.org, with sixteen civic partners, tracks state legislation on Internet.
2000
Connections for Community Ownership, a minority entrepreneurship program targeted at transit-friendly neighborhoods, opens first of 11 franchise businesses.
2000
Community Energy Cooperative, in partnership with ComEd, enrolls 7,000 members to test community-based strategies to reduce energy costs and peak demand.
2000
Driven to Spend: The Impact of Sprawl on Household Transportation Expenses shows how sprawl eats away at family budgets, jointly published with STPP.
2000
Environmental justice case studies completed for Federal Highway Administration.
2000
Developing Stories: Homegrown Innovations on Growth provides local examples of smart growth principles.
2001
CNT’s headquarters begins second innovative green renovation.
2002
CNT imports nonprofit car sharing model from Europe to Chicago, begins what will become IGO CarSharing.
2002
A second regional citizen transportation planning process produces Changing Direction: Transportation Choices for 2030 and tools for local planning.
2002
TravelMatters.org provides nation’s first Internet-based scorecard on emissions resulting from different transportation choices.
2003
The New Transit Town, a 2003 Island Press publication, results from national research by CNT and the Great American Station Foundation on barriers to transit-oriented development.
2004
The Energy-Smart Pricing Plan, a unique real-time electricity rate plan launched by the Community Energy Cooperative in 2003, receives the first annual Inspiring Energy Efficiency Award from the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and is hailed as a national model for electricity demand reduction by Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith.
2005
A consolidated land use/transportation regional planning agency, an idea championed for more than a decade by CNT’s Chicagoland Transportation and Air Quality Commission, is signed into law by Governor Blagojevich.

I-GO Car Sharing

2005
CNT’s renovated headquarters is certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as “LEEDTM Platinum,” the highest certification attainable.
2005
Two of CNT’s community wireless technicians traveled to Mississippi and Louisiana to assist with disaster relief following Hurricane Katrina. Their accomplishments were documented in the New York Times article, “Talking in the Dark.”
2006
The H+T Affordability Index, a new measure for housing affordability that takes into account the combined costs of housing and transportation, is launched. CNT co-authored a Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program brief about the Index with the Center for Transit Oriented Development.
2006
CNT and its affiliate the Community Energy Cooperative received a 2006 Chicago Innovation Awards for introducing the Energy-Smart Pricing PlanSM (ESPP), an innovative hourly electricity pricing program for residential customers.
2006
Paved Over: Surface Parking Lots or Opportunities for Tax-Generating, Sustainable Development compared the economic and social costs of surface parking lots near rail transit stations with potential economic and social benefits if they were developed into mixed-use, pedestrian friendly, transit-oriented developments in suburban Cook County.
2007
IGO grows to 6,000 members and 160 cars, serving residents and businesses in Chicago, Evanston, and Oak Park
2007
Nobel Laureate Dr. Wangari Maathai presides over dedication of a native garden that was created and planted in her name by Al Raby School for Community and Environment students and community members, in partnership with CNT.
2007
In response to the CTA funding crisis, CNT launches the Transit Future Campaign. The grassroots campaign galvanizes organizations and stakeholders who use the transit system to communicate directly with their legislators and the Governor about transit funding and reform.
2007
CNT works with The Clinton Foundation to build a web-based tool that the 40 largest cities in the world will use to compute their carbon footprint, as well as providing the research for the City of Chicago’s Climate Action Plan.
2008
The release of CNT’s Housing+Transportation Affordability Index is a source of media buzz, showing planners, real estate professionals and the public the true cost of housing by factoring in transportation costs.
2008
IGO grows to 10,000 members and 200 cars, serving residents and businesses in Chicago, Evanston and Oak Park.
2008
The Chicago Climate Action Plan, a major milestone for CNT’s climate change work, is released by the City of Chicago. CNT led the mitigation research team for the Chicago Climate Change Task Force that developed the report.
2008
Former CNT board member, Barack Obama, is elected President of the United States.
2009
CNT’s H+T research is recognized in Washington, DC when the Department of Housing & Urban Development and the US Department of Transportation form an interagency partnership to promote sustainable communities through coordinating housing and transportation policy and investments.
2009
CNT is the proud recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s prestigious “Creative and Effective Institutions Award.”
2010
Launched Abogo, a tool designed to help home-seekers discover the true cost of transportation of different home locations and make better decisions about where to live.
2010
Expanded the H + T Index to 337 metro areas, covering 80% of the U.S. population.
2011
Worked to implement the Green TIME Zone, alongside select regional partners—a strategy to improve freight and passenger rail operation, create green manufacturing jobs, and stabilize foreclosed or at-risk properties in a 42-city region in Chicago’s south suburbs.
2011
CNT recognized for its ideas & tools in promoting urban sustainability by Planetizen and the USGBC.
2012
IGO celebrates 10 years as Chicago’s only hometown, nonprofit car sharing organization.
2012
Hosted our first Urban Sustainability Hackathon, bringing together participants from Chicago’s civic, business, and IT communities.
2013
CNT’s affiliate, CNT Energy, hit a milestone with more than 10,000 apartment units in the Chicago metropolitan area having been retrofitted with energy efficiency improvements through its Energy Savers program.
2013
IGO CarSharing is acquired by Enterprise, accelerating the growth of car sharing in Chicago.
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