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City mandates ‘green’ rules for new construction

Evanston aldermen Monday voted to require large new construction projects in the city to comply with so-called green building standards.

The ordinance was approved on an 8-1 vote after provisions that would have applied to renovation of existing buildings were stripped from it.

Evanston aldermen Monday voted to require large new construction projects in the city to comply with so-called green building standards.

The ordinance was approved on an 8-1 vote after provisions that would have applied to renovation of existing buildings were stripped from it.

New commercial and multifamily construction projects over 10,000 square feet will be required to achieve silver certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Envergy and Environmental Design program. The ordinance applies to private and city-owned developments.

The City Council also named a seven-member committee to develop proposals for how the ordinance might be applied to rehab projects. The committee was directed to report its recommendations to the city by Dec. 1.

The decision to adopt the ordinance at all Monday was opposed by Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, who said the council should wait until it received the new committee’s report before taking action. She was joined by Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, and one other alderman in voting to table the measure.

The version of the ordinance finally adopted was proposed by Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward.

The rehab provisions had come under fire from Andy Spatz, an architect and developer specializing in adaptive reuse projects, and other small-scale developers. Spatz said the added costs and uncertainty involved in seeking environmental certification would make it impossible to finance many projects, especially those in less-affluent parts of the city.

Spatz was among the people appointed to the new committee, along with Paige Finnegan, the co-chair of the Environment Board, who’d been a strong advocate for the ordinance.

In a city news release this morning Finnegan said the council action Monday showed its commitment "to creating a green and healthy community."

through the passage of the Green Building Ordinance. The use of LEED criteria for new commercial construction will lead to significant long-term economic, health and environmental benefits for Evanston and its residents."

City officials say Evanston is moving to become the Midwest’s leader in green building by requiring the LEED Silver certification city-wide.

Advocates claim green buildings offer a wide range of community benefits including reduced operating costs and environmental impacts and conservation of natural resources.

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