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Environmental Technology Project Updates

Electrical Vehicle Charging Station

In March 2011, the City of Chicago and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s office, announced a $1.9 million dollar electric vehicle infrastructure project for Chicago.  At that time, the Governor announced the installation of over 280 car-charging stations for electric vehicles across the state.  The stations are to be installed in predominantly high traffic areas with dense residential and worker populations including Illinois Tollway Oasis’ and concentrated shopping areas.  The total budget of $8.8 million dollars is to be supplemented by $6.9 million dollars of private investment funds.
 
The contractor is Los Angeles-based 350 Green LLC, which is headed by Mariana Gerzanych.  They have been contracted to install 73 quick-charging stations (30 minutes to charge, on average) and 207 Level 2 chargers, which take from 2 to 6 hours to charge, depending on power supply and voltage.  Approximately 60 of the 280 stations will be installed outside of Cook County and the suburbs. The Wright College Sustainability Center and Wright Faculty/Staff Sustainability Task Force made a request for a charger to the City of Chicago Department of Environment, but was informed that a station would most likely be located at the Harlem-Irving Shopping Center, approximately a mile from campus on the northwest side. However, in April of 2012, Wright College was contacted by 38th ward alderman Timothy Cullerton that received an offer by Mid-Town Nissan to install a Level 2 electric car-charging station at a location within his ward.  Alderman Cullerton suggested Wright College and on June 4th, 2012, the Level 2 charging station was installed and a dedication ceremony took place on July 9th.  

 

The electric vehicle charging station is located on Parking Lot D, south of the parking garage. Wright College’s faculty and staff wish to thank Mid Town Nissan, Alderman Cullerton and all those responsible for this great addition to the campus.  The station is open for public use, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. There is currently no fee for usage, however, we request that all electric vehicle owners be considerate of other fellow owners. Please unplug and open the space up for another vehicle when charging has completed. Thank you. For more information on Wright College’s electric charging station, please contact Robert Herley at 773-481-8610.

  

Sustainability and Service Learning: A Citywide Project
 
Sponsored by the Institute of Cultural Affairs, the  Accelerate 77: Sharing Approaches That Work Conference was held at City Colleges of Chicago’s Truman College on September 15, 2012.  The “77” designation, comes from Chicago’s seventy-seven community neighborhoods.  Wright College attended to provide information about the many sustainability and green economy projects it is spearheading, and to represent the city’s Portage Park neighborhood.

 

Along with Wright Environmental Tech Program staff, also participating that day was Professor Doris Espiritu, Chemistry Department Chair at Wright, and three Service Learning Program students from the college.  Each student had an opportunity to visit with the 70+ exhibitors and learn about service learning opportunities at their respective organization, and how they might participate.

Although many organizations, foundations, government agencies and neighborhood groups have programs to assist local sustainability efforts, many communities are unaware of or unfamiliar with ways to access them.  The underlying strategy of the Accelerate 77 project is to:

 
• identify current sustainability initiatives in all of Chicago’s neighborhoods
• connect them with one another to inspire new ideas and
• engage residents in systematic learning, planning and collective action 
 
It’s anticipated that this initiative will thereby accelerate environmental sustainability through a grassroots approach, driven by practical action, expanded imagination, and greater organizational capacities among local groups. 
 
The day’s events highlighted innovations in areas such as local food production, education, energy, waste reduction, green jobs, recycling and others.  Karen Weigert, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Chicago, offered the keynote address in the morning.  She was followed by Dr. Terry Bergdall, CEO of the Institute of Cultural Affairs, and Lisa Parker of NBC5 News served as moderator. 
The organization’s website, www.accelerate77.net, will eventually feature all the participating sustainability neighborhood groups and will allow them to connect via community group pages; a user-driven directory of organizations and numerous forum spaces.  Individuals and groups, with free website access, will be able to search for sustainable initiatives anywhere in the city, contact and create dynamic web profiles and share local events.  With a social network for organizations that have a commitment to sustainability and community development, it will be easy to organize and promote events and projects and also collaborate with other groups around the city.
 
During the conference, twenty-four breakout seminars were held on a variety of subjects.   Some of those topics included seminars on alternative transportation by “igo” car sharing, green financial education from the Center for Neighborhood Technology, weatherization from CEDA and Energy Impact Illinois, and green economies by the Delta Institute. 
 
The Accelerate 77 program is expected to last for a 3-year timespan, and this conference was the culmination of the first year of organizing and networking.