News for April, 2011
Thursday, April 28th, 2011
For a limited time, Chicago homeowners can receive up to $1,000 for participating in a Peoples Gas air-sealing program. Properly air sealing a building can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs, improve building durability, create a healthier indoor environment and increase the occupants’ comfort level.
The program includes a pre-work inspection and radon test by auditors from CNT Energy, who refer owners to a qualified contractor. The auditors return after the work is completed to ensure airflow reduction targets are met and homeowners are seeing results. Read more »
Friday, April 22nd, 2011
CHICAGO (April 21, 2011)—A new feature on CNT’s Abogo® website allows users to see how rising gas prices could affect household transportation costs at a given location. Users type in an address to see average transportation costs for a neighborhood, and then select a gas price to calculate how this price affects total transportation costs for a typical household at that address. In auto-dependent locations, transportation costs increase dramatically as prices move up along the slider, while transit-rich locations have more modest increases.
“Location matters when it comes to how much a household pays to get around,” said Scott Bernstein, CNT president. “This tool illustrates how people in neighborhoods that lack transportation options will feel the gas price squeeze more acutely than people in neighborhoods where they can get around via transit, car sharing, a bike or their two feet.”
To see how gas prices will affect transportation costs where you live, go to: http://abogo.cnt.org/.
Abogo – a mash-up of “abode” and “to go”— uses data and calculations from CNT‘s Housing + Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index to calculate the average transportation costs of a place. Transportation costs in the Index are based on the area’s average cost of auto ownership, auto usage and transit use. Calculations are based on 2000 Census data, the most recent data available at the census block group level. CNT will update the H+T Index with the most recent American Community Survey data later this year.
The Abogo gas slider allows people to adjust gas prices at $.05 increments between $3/gallon to $7/gallon. Users can compare these projected costs to two other transportation costs that are based on:
- the most recent national gas price average, and
- 2000 gas prices in the H+T Index.
How do today’s gas prices compare with 2008, the watershed year when a gallon of gas topped $4? The figure below charts the two years’ gas prices by week:
The national average gas price was $3.84/gallon on April 18 of this year, 33 cents higher than the price at this time in April 2008. National average gas prices didn’t hit $3.84/gal until May 26 in 2008, so in a sense we’re running at least five weeks ahead of that famous price run-up.
To minimize the impact of raising gas prices, CNT recommends that people:
Take transit where possible and make sure their employers have signed up for pre-tax transit benefits. Pre-tax transit benefits are an underutilized “use it or lose it” federal tax break administered through employers. Employees can save up to 40 percent on their commuting costs by buying transit fare before paying taxes. In Chicago, Cook County employers currently can receive up to $1,700 for simply enrolling their employees into the program.
Curb their cars and sign up for car sharing. Americans spend an annual average of $7,319 to own, operate, and maintain their cars, according to the AAA. A typical member of I-GO® Car Sharing in Chicago spends roughly $2,520 per year on transportation. Car sharing gets people where they need to go without worrying about gas prices. Members pay for cars by the hour, and gas is included in the hourly fee (as is insurance), so no need to worry about its price. Chicago’s I-GO has cars that are gas sippers, and it will soon add 30+ electric cars to its fleet that don’t use gasoline at all. There are 10 other nonprofit car-sharing organizations across the country. Find one in your city at carsharing.org.
“The H+T Index quantifies how choosing to live in walkable, transit-connected neighborhood can lower household expenses, and escalating gas prices drive this point home,” said Bernstein. “It’s times like these that underscore how tolerating low-density development patterns and neglecting public transportation infrastructure has serious consequences.”
Founded in 1978, CNT is a Chicago-based think-and-do tank that works nationally to advance urban sustainability by researching, inventing and testing strategies that use resources more efficiently and equitably. Its programs focus on climate, energy, natural resources, transportation, and community development. Visit www.cnt.org for more information.
Thursday, April 21st, 2011
We’ve launched a new tool on our Abogo® website that shows how rising gas prices could affect household transportation costs at a given location. Users can type in an address to see average transportation costs for a neighborhood and then select a gas price to calculate how it would affect transportation costs at that location. Auto-dependent locations see their transportation costs increase dramatically as prices move up along the slider, but transit-rich locations have more modest increases. Read more »
Thursday, April 21st, 2011
CHICAGO (April 19, 2011)—The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a 33 year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to urban sustainability, has purchased a building at 1741 N. Western Ave. to accommodate growth in the organization and its two affiliates, CNT Energy and I-GO Car Sharing. The expansion reflects the increased demand for CNT’s solutions that simultaneously promote economic growth and environmental sustainability. Staff will move into the building this summer.
“We like to practice what we preach, and this is a nice example of what CNT is all about: uncover a community’s hidden assets and put them to new uses in ways that help the economy and the planet,” said Kathy Tholin, CNT’s Chief Executive Officer. “We needed a building, and this building needed us. It was slated to be demolished to make room for new condos before the housing bubble burst. Now this 97-year-old structure will be home to CNT’s committed staff, and we will soon draft plans to make the building a model of today’s energy efficiency technology, much like we did with our first building in the early 2000s.”
The purchase of 1741 N. Western marks a new chapter in CNT’s history. A CNT staff of 30 moved into 2125 W. North Ave. in 1987. In 2005, CNT remodeled the former weaving factory to become one of the first platinum USGBC LEED-certified buildings in the United States.
Since then, CNT has grown to include 96 staff across CNT, CNT Energy and I-GO Car Sharing. The research, programs and policies the organizations test and advocate for have taken off as concern over climate change, high energy costs, and inefficient use of existing community assets has steadily increased.
CNT Energy staff will move into the new building this summer. Demand for energy efficiency retrofits to the Chicago region’s building stock has dramatically increased in recent years, thanks to the Chicago Climate Action Plan goal of retrofitting 50 percent of the city’s buildings by 2020, multiple tax credits and rebates, and the savings owners see on utility bills.
Last fall, the region was awarded $25 million in stimulus funding to scale up the energy efficiency retrofit market. CNT Energy was chosen to administer the program, the Chicago Regional Initiative for Better Buildings, due in large part to its successful Energy Savers program. Energy Savers has helped local building owners make energy efficiency improvements in more than 3,500 housing units, cutting energy costs by 30 percent on average or $10,000 per year.
“I’m thrilled CNT is expanding into the 1st Ward,” said Alderman Joe Moreno. “We welcome our newest neighbor’s commitment to making communities economically and environmentally stronger.”
Emily Robinson, Center for Neighborhood Technology, email@example.com, 773-269-4043
Thursday, April 21st, 2011
CNT and I-GO Car Sharing are encouraged by the announcement today of Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel’s appointments to key transportation positions. Former Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool will become CTA president and bring a management track record that will serve the CTA well. Terry Peterson will provide continuity as the chairman of the Chicago Transit Board, a position he’s held since 2009. Gabe Klein, former director of the District of Columbia’s Department of Transportation, will become the next commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation. Read more »
Monday, April 18th, 2011
The Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill last week that will give counties and municipalities more flexibility in using green infrastructure to address costly flooding problems for businesses and homeowners. HB 3372 would allow counties to establish systems that encourage the use of green infrastructure—using trees, green roofs, porous pavement and other techniques to filter rainwater—on private and public property. The bill would also allow counties to adopt a schedule of fees—after a referendum— to provide a dedicated revenue source to pay for ongoing stormwater management services and activities. Read more »
Friday, April 15th, 2011
CNT has purchased a building at 1741 N. Western Ave. to accommodate growth in the organization and our two affiliates, CNT Energy and I-GO Car Sharing. The expansion reflects the increased demand for CNT’s solutions that simultaneously promote economic growth and environmental sustainability. Staff will move into the building this summer. Read more »
Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
CHICAGO (April 13, 2011)—I-GO Car Sharing, Chicago’s first and only non-profit car-sharing organization, has formally announced its long-time status as a community-based “public offering.” I-GO went public at its inception in 2002, providing the public a convenient, affordable transportation alternative to auto-ownership. I-GO views itself as an extension of the public transit system, and it is the only car sharing organization in North America that has partnered with a local transit authority to offer a smart card that gives its 15,000 members access to both transit and car sharing vehicles.
“We provide an important public service that enhances mobility options while creating sustainable communities,” said Sharon Feigon, CEO of I-GO, an affiliate of the 32-year old Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology. “We have nothing against Wall Street; we’re just more focused on places like Broadway and Lawrence and 53rd and South Lake Park.”
A typical I-GO member spends about $2,500 per year on transportation, roughly $5,000 less than the annual cost of owning a car. I-GO has more than 200 cars in 35 neighborhoods throughout the city and four suburbs that get users where they need to go without worrying about today’s escalating gas prices. Members pay for cars by the hour (about $8.50), and gas is included in the hourly fee (as is insurance).
I-GO is committed to pushing the car sharing industry to be as sustainable as possible. I-GO’s cars are all fuel efficient, and the organization will soon add roughly 30 electric cars to its fleet that don’t use gasoline at all. This spring, I-GO will install 15 solar canopies to power its electric vehicles with emissions-free electricity.
To speak to I-GO CEO Sharon Feigon about I-GO or other car sharing businesses that are going public, contact Emily Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773.269.4043.
Monday, April 11th, 2011
CNT is pleased to announce we have a new Natural Resources program director, Harriet Festing! Harriet will be leading CNT’s program on water, looking at smart solutions such as asset management, water efficiency and green infrastructure. CNT’s Natural Resources program encompasses community demonstration projects, on-line information and support tools, policy development and outreach. Read more »
Monday, April 11th, 2011
CNT was pleased to join Transportation for America (T4A) and other partners at a recent media event in Chicago designed to call attention to the deteriorated condition of our state’s – and nation’s – transportation infrastructure. T4A hosted the event to announce the release of its new report, The Fix We’re In For: The State of Our Nation’s Bridges, which provides a detailed assessment of current conditions and investment needs in Illinois as well as the rest of the country. Read more »