Because it is less dependent upon the automobile, the average carbon footprint of an Evanston household is 45 percent less than in the far western suburb of Naperville, according to an opinion piece in Forbes magazine.

Christopher Steiner, author of a best-selling book on energy, $20 Per Gallon, writes that Evanston’s footprint is 47.1 metric tons per household, compared with Naperville’s 85.8 tons and Chicago’s 60610 zip code on its near north side at 34.4 tons.

In his article, “Newer Towns Waste More Energy,” Steiner credits Evanston’s best-known urban planner, Daniel Burnham, with advocating minimized commutes to make Chicagoans’ lives simpler, which in itself curbs energy use.

“This fact, along with the advantages of shared walls and floors,” he contends, “puts residents of the U.S.’s denser cities far ahead when it comes to keeping energy bills down.”

Naperville, on the other hand, experienced dramatic growth from 87,490 in 1990 to 143,684 in 2012 by piling small plans upon small plans, “resulting in a town of willy-nilly subdivisions and cul-de-sacs where traffic on the too-few arterial roads—built decades ago for a smaller population—can paralyze commutes.”

Steiner points to Evanston as a suburb “where the niceties of city life mix with a few more trees, better schools, and a higher-than-normal suburban population density to reward households with energy footprints far less than those of far-flung burbs.”

Evanston benefits from an infrastructure built a century ago, Steiner notes, that enables most residents to “easily walk to a grocery store, or make their way via L trains or commuter rail to Chicago’s Loop, the second largest job center in the U.S. behind Manhattan.”

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Speaking of mass transit,
    Speaking of mass transit, haven’t heard a word from the city or the CTA on what if any progress is being made on the proposed Asbury Ave. Yellow line (Skokie Swift) station. It’s been over 2 years since it was announced, last I heard the CTA didn’t have the money for it. That’s interesting, since they seem to have a bottomless pit of money for all the old stations they are rehabbing in Chicago.

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