Lipman, J. (April 20, 2006). Chicago looking to residents for eco-initiatives. Daily Southtown.

 

 

Chicago looking to residents for eco-initiatives

 

 

Thursday, April 20, 2006

 

 

By Jonathan Lipman

Staff writer

Chicago is recruiting city residents for its new network of volunteer

environmentalists who will help their neighbors plant gardens, use public

transportation or make their homes eco-friendly.

 

Mayor Richard Daley announced the creation of the Chicago Conservation Corps

as part of his 2006 environmental agenda.

 

"It will be a grassroots network of volunteers," Daley said Wednesday. "Each

neighborhood has its own needs. We want the ideas to come from the people

who live there."

 

Volunteers would get city-provided training in starting their own local

environmental projects and would get access to city departments for

information and services.

 

Training for the corps, or "C-3" as the city has nicknamed it, starts in

May. Volunteers will get classes in core areas of environmental action as

well as help in developing their own projects. People with less time to

commit can call the corps to be matched with one-time projects in their

neighborhoods.

 

Several environmental groups are working with the city on the project. Ben

Cox, executive director of the Friends of the Forest Preserve, said the

corps is the "real deal" and could boost the number of community gardens and

local cleanup projects you see across the city.

 

"You're going to have representatives in every neighborhood who are going to

be experts in whatever are they decide (to train in)," Cox said. "They're

going to be able to get the resources they need to get the job done. And

they'll be connected to a network of experts in other projects."

 

The city itself is trying a new environmental experiment by placing four

high-tech wind turbines atop the Daley Center roof, where they will be the

highest building-mounted wind generators in the world.

 

"We're pretty excited about that," Daley said.

 

The turbines, which look like 15-foot-tall vertical corkscrews made of clear

plastic, will cost $100,000 to install and maintain and will generate enough

power for one or two courtrooms in the 680-foot tall building. City

environmental commissioner Sadhu Johnston said the point is to test the

technology.

 

"We don't know (how much power they'll generate), because it's a test, these

are the first of their kind in the world," Johnston said. "If it works we'll

expand it ... to as many buildings as we can."

 

The turbines are built in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood by Aerotecture

International and were designed by University of Illinois at Chicago

professor Bil Becker.

 

Becker said his vertical turbines rotate slower, but with more force, than

traditional propeller-style windmills. That makes them safer, quieter and

more stable. Propeller turbines often spin so fast they rock off their base,

throw off dangerous chunks of ice and are invisible to hapless birds who are

killed by the blades.

 

"We don't know what the winds are. We know they're going to be significant

at the top of the Daley Center," Becker said. "We've got a tremendous wind

resource here."

 

For information about the Chicago Conservation Corps, call (312) 743-9283.