Last week our class discussed energy topics with a number of players from around Chicago and the state.
We heard from:
- A climate specialist from the University of Illinois Extension
- Citizen’s Utility Board
- Franklin Energy
- Chicago Department of Transportation
Our climate specialist discussed the climate of Chicago and how that may change over time. For instance, Chicago may be 4.4 Degrees to 4.7 Degrees warmer by mid-century and an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are likely as well.
You can learn more about what Chicago plans to do by reading Chicago’s Climate Action Plan.
The class also got the chance to explore the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum‘s new exhibit “Weather to Climate: Our Changing World.” It was pretty neat and hands on. There was a game that let you calculate how much CO2 you put into the atmosphere each day!
Citizen’s Utility Board is a non-profit that represents the interests of Illinois ratepayers.
They help individuals with their bills, conduct consumer education events and are advocates for energy efficiency and demand response programs.
Many utility bills are confusing, so we got an explanation of our electric bills and then the benefits of a smart grid.
After that, we discussed ComEd’s free home energy assessment that can provide free energy-saving products for your home. The products included programmable thermostats, ENERGY STAR certified CFLs, smart power trips, WaterSense certified shower heads, faucet aerators, and hot water pipe insulation.
Since the majority of us in C3 are not homeowners, we also discussed how to approach your landlord about taking part in this program. Basically, you need to explain all the benefits and mention a million times that it is FREE!
Finally, CDOT is in charge of building and maintaining our transportation network. It may seem random that we were talking about transportation in our energy class, but the goal was to talk about active forms of transportation that help reduce our reliance on cars and therefore energy.
The City of Chicago has some pretty impressive transportation goals:
- 5% of all trips under 5 miles will be taken by bicycle
- All Chicago residents will live within .5 miles of a bikeway
- Reduce pedestrian and bicycle crash injuries, each by 5% within 5 years
We then talked about Chicago’s bike share system, Divvy, which is ideal for short trips and commutes. So far Divvy has 475 stations and 4,760 bikes. While I have not ridden a Divvy bike yet, I did ride the bike share in DC occasionally. I have my own bike, but I see plenty of people out riding Divvy on the streets and many bike lanes.