2022 Awardees Reflect the Leadership of
Municipalities and Nonprofits in Net Zero Buildings
Chicago, IL -- Illinois Green Alliance announced the recipients of this year’s Emerald Awards, dubbed the 2022 Path to Zero Heroes, for their ongoing efforts to mainstream net zero buildings in Illinois.
The Illinois Green Alliance Emerald Awards were launched in 2008 and today reflect the focus on making Illinois a national leader in net zero actions that reduce carbon pollution. This year, one individual and one organization are being honored for their continued commitment and advocacy in advancing high performance, cutting-edge existing and new construction buildings.
“These leaders are laying the foundation necessary to decarbonize every building in Illinois by demonstrating net zero technology is feasible in any building and in any neighborhood,” said Brian Imus, Executive Director of Illinois Green. “These leaders are reducing carbon pollution in their community while improving health, comfort, and well-being and showing Illinois is a leader in net zero building design and technology.”
Celebrate Lesley Showers and the Park District of Oak Park at the Limelight Reception and Emerald Awards Ceremony on October 6 at 333 N. Green St.
The Uptown Coastal Natural Area project, beginning in 2022, will transform approximately six acres of lawn into a thriving space for people and wildlife through the planting of Illinois native prairie and savanna wildflowers, grasses, and shrubs. The project is located in Lincoln Park west of DuSable Lake Shore Drive and between Lawrence and Wilson. The ecological restoration process will create a resting stop for migratory birds, absorb and filter stormwater, and establish a place for nature observation and respite in a section of the Uptown community area that is densely populated and highly urbanized.
Initially identified through the Institute of Cultural Affairs "Uptown Coastal Initiative", this effort is made possible through funding from the Illinois Coastal Management Program of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
1930s: The northern Chicago lakefront undergoes drastic changes through land filling and the creation of Montrose Point and Montrose Harbor. Landscape plans in Lincoln Park, of which only some were realized, call for the installation of thousands of native shrubs and trees.
2016: The Institute of Cultural Affairs Uptown Coastal Initiative engages Uptown community members in a planning process to "enhance awareness and stewardship of Uptown's inner coastal zone and its unique assets." The idea to create a native habitat restoration project west of DuSable Lake Shore Drive is identified as part of this process.
2021: The Chicago Park District applies for and receives a grant from the Illinois Coastal Management Program of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to replace existing turf lawn with native prairie and savanna plantings.
2022–ongoing: Project begins in late summer/fall 2022, including fencing, treatments to non-native vegetation, native plant and seed installation, and signage development. Management of the new plantings will continue in future years.
According to the National Register of Historic Places entry for this area of Lincoln Park, "[Alfred] Caldwell gave the landscape a 'naturalistic effect' by relying on native trees, shrubs, and flowers in a layered and informally arranged manner. The original design included masses of vegetation that defined meadows and areas such as parking lots. This included a long meandering meadow west of Lake Shore Dr. between Lawrence Dr. and Foster Dr. and a smaller meadow between Wilson Dr. and Lawrence Dr. In the late 1930s this area was much more densely planted than the landscape east of Lake Shore Dr. Although the vegetation is now greatly reduced, particularly along the western edge of the two meadows, the area retains its historic pathway system."
For further detail click here.
Accelerate Neighborhood Climate Action Denver (ANCA) is an all-volunteer program dedicated to building climate resilient communities, neighborhood-by-neighborhood. The program originated in Denver, CO in 2015 alongside partner organizations: Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, Metropolitan State University of Denver, UNL Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science, and The Institute of Cultural Affairs USA .
It has now expanded to Boulder, CO and Redlands, CA.
Through community education, neighborhood campaigns and action forums, small group projects, and support for city initiatives and policies, ANCA volunteers are working to address climate-related issues at the local level like conserving water, safeguarding against intense heat, strengthening food supplies, preparing for natural disasters, and more.
As Accelerate Neighborhood Climate Action in Redlands Founder Linda Hamilton said, this “is a crucial step toward effective community action.” Learn more about this locally-driven climate action program and how residents are taking action in their own neighborhoods at the link here.
ANNOUNCED MAY 31ST IN THE CITY OF CHICAGO NEWSLETTER: Mayor Lightfoot announces $33.5 million in Community Development Grants | And more from DPD
Community Development Commission Approvals
The commission approved up to $2 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for Uptown's Institute of Cultural Affairs, which is planning $20.7 million in building upgrades for its 100-year-old headquarters.
On Friday, April 22, 2022, students from the Uplift Community High School, 900 W. Wilson, Chicago, IL, located in Uptown, in collaboration with the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA), will participate in a fun and creative “Scavenger Hunt” to celebrate Earth Day and underscore the critical role each member of Uptown plays in combating climate change. Eight teams of 6 students each will compete with one another using a new educational app developed by Civil Agents, a communications agency that designs digital tools to raise awareness of critical environmental, recycling, sustainability and waste management issues.
The student competition will culminate with a Happy Hour event hosted at the ICA’s GreenRise, 4750 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL, from 5 pm to 7 pm. The GreenRise is itself a demonstration of how a vintage office building can become carbon neutral, relying, in part, on its solar array of nearly 500 panels, the second most in the city after the Shedd Aquarium. ICA was recognized as a member of the Mayor’s Leadership Circle for Outstanding Energy Efficiency for achieving a 23% energy reduction.
Uplift High School and ICA GreenRise have collaborated with Sarah’s Circle and Lakeside Towers Apartments to form the Uptown Carbon-Free Demonstration Building Project. The goal is to develop action research, training and collaboration with personnel from multiple buildings, organizations and government agencies to assist Chicago neighborhoods in moving toward being carbon-free by 2035. The Uptown Chamber of Commerce is a sponsor of the scavenger hunt along with other neighborhood businesses.
Participating organization’s websites:
Uplift Community High School - https://uplifths.cps.edu
Civil Agents - https://civilagents.com
The Institute of Cultural Affairs USA (ICA USA) is pleased to announce Lesley Showers as Interim Executive Director starting on January 3, 2022. Working in progressive roles at ICA USA since 2010, Ms. Showers has a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit organization management industry. She is skilled in program evaluation, conflict resolution, management and facilitation.
Ms. Showers’ career with ICA began in 2010 as Property Manager charged with restoring GreenRise, the organization’s headquarters and a historic 1921 Chicago Landmark. The 166,000 sq. ft. terracotta building houses 19 different nonprofits and social service agencies making it the largest non-profit social service center in the Midwest. She was instrumental in the installation of the second largest array of solar panels in Chicago’s non-profit community (485 panels) and 25% of GreenRise’s energy is solar. As a result, the building has become a sustainable, energy efficient living learning laboratory. Recognizing Ms. Showers accomplishments in restoring the building and making it a leading model in Illinois, she was promoted to become the Chief Operations Officer of ICA USA in May 2019.
“The Board of Directors is thrilled to have Lesley as our new Interim Executive Director,” said Margaret Gergen, incoming President. “She brings over a decade of service and experience with ICA and the Green Rise Project, as well as a wealth of professional knowledge and training. We are fortunate to have Lesley leading our ICA team into exciting new ventures and look forward to working with her to realize our vision to “build a just and equitable society in harmony with planet Earth.”
Ms. Showers holds a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcasting and Communication from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah and a Bachelor of Architecture focused on Interior Architecture from School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
ICA USA is well positioned for growth in 2022 thanks to the leadership of Philip Waitzman MBA, MPH, MA, LSW who has been serving as Interim Executive Director since mid-2020. Mr. Waitzman focused the organization in revenue growth and fundraising, cost savings, website marketing, refocusing the mission, board development, programming and GreenRise management. His modernized approach to leading and coaching leaders breaks the mold and moves to a strategic proactive business minded approach to leading mission centered organizations.
About Institute of Cultural Affairs USA
Social justice has been a constant in the Institute of Cultural Affair’s mission and has always told its story within the context of the “moral issue of our times.” When it first began in 1962, the major moral issue across the United States was civil rights. Today, awakened persons know that global climate change confronts sensitive and responsible people everywhere with a huge moral dilemma. ICA USA’s current mission statement, approved by its Board of Directors in 2013, combines the two: “to build a just and equitable society in harmony with Planet Earth.”
Oliveann always made the world a better place by her presence and actions in it. In her work with the ICA she set up the first Town Meeting in Ohio and facilitated many more. Through project learning as a teacher she tenaciously worked to ensure high school students had positive images of themselves and the relevanace of math in their lives. The Disney Foundation recognized this work by awarding her the National Teacher of the Year. And most recently she has pioneered in catalyzing teams to offer Climate Action Forums in Denver and Boulder. Oliveann passed away on May 3, 2021, and will be long remembered by her colleagues as an inspiration in her love of life, and the way she cared for others and the planet.
James Michael has worked in a wide range of program and business development environments, including higher education, healthcare, international child development, and grassroots social service work. Jim’s thirty-year career in the nonprofit sector has brought him in contact with an incredibly diverse group of individuals, from military families to ill and injured homeless people, from the visually impaired to people with developmental disabilities. He currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for Baal Perazim Wellness & Health Services, a multi-site integrative primary care and community wellness organization, where he leads development planning, marketing, and community partnerships. He moved to Chicago in January of 2006 from his hometown of Seattle.
Jim is very active in various philanthropic and fundraising project work, as both a consultant and a volunteer, and has a deep interest in community building and cultural engineering. He has a certificate in Nonprofit Executive Management from Kellogg School of Management, a master’s degree in education from Seattle University, and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Washington. He counts his two school-age children as his greatest achievement, and lives in Forest Park
Margaret Gergen is recently retired from 35+ years in real estate development, senior housing administration and property management throughout various neighborhoods in Chicago and Evanston, IL. In this capacity, her responsibilities included oversight of physical maintenance, residential and commercial leasing, budget preparation and accountability, supervision of food service and social program departments, as well as program development and community relations.
She and her family were full-time volunteers with the ICA in the 70’s and 80’s, serving in Minneapolis-St Paul, Chicago, Atlanta and Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Margaret is a native of Missouri, was a Presidential Scholar and Humanities major at Hamline University in St. Paul, and currently resides in Chicago.
Since her retirement she has been active in senior advocacy and services with Joining Forces for Affordable Housing’s Age-Friendly Housing Committee, Levy Senior Center Advisory Board, Age Options Advisory Board, and the Aging Well Evanston Conference Planning Committee. She is also a member of the Evanston Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors and an Evanston Long Term Care Ombudsman Volunteer.