Legacy Community Project
Greenbuild Chicago 2010 – Legacy Community Project
Since 2003 when Greenbuild sponsored the construction of a straw-bale playhouse in conjunction with a local nonprofit in its host city of Pittsburgh, Greenbuild has sponsored a “legacy project” in each of its host cities, although the nature of these projects has varied greatly. The Legacy Project is meant to complement USGBC’s mission and serve as a means of service, education and thanks to the local community that hosts the Greenbuild conference.
This year, with the help of generous matching funds from ComEd (link to https://www.comed.com/Pages/home.aspx), the Legacy Project funding totaled $20,000. In an effort to knit new relationships with as many local organizations as possible, the Greenbuild Chicago Host Committee solicited for micro-grant proposals relating to a wide range of environmental and social equity criteria—with emphasis on projects that would help connect green building with the next generation. The result is support for six extraordinary local projects that are described below.
Greenbuild and the six grant recipient projects are especially grateful to ComEd for its support of their efforts. ComEd committed to matching the total budget amount offered by Greenbuild to the Legacy Project. ComEd is also a member of the Leadership Circle for the Greenbuild Chicago 2010 Host Committee and their active participation in both the USGBC – Illinois Chapter and the Greenbuild Legacy Project are a natural fit with ComEd’s ongoing USGBC activities. They also are an extension of ComEd’s efforts under Exelon 2020, an aggressive environmental strategy by ComEd’s parent company, Exelon, to reduce, offset, or displace more than 15 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year by 2020.
YouthBuild Lake County – www.youthbuildlakecounty.org
Awarded $5500 to help purchase equipment for job training in residential weatherization and energy retrofits.
YouthBuild Lake County (YBLC) has been providing education and job training services to minorities and underrepresented populations for over five years. As a community-based organization, YBLC specifically works to promote social equity and services to at-risk and disadvantaged youth in Lake County. YBLC supports local youth ages 12 to 24 in obtaining their high school diploma or GED, and provides valuable construction job training. Recently, YBLC began to engage students on job training related to home efficiency and weatherization, and is planning to improve and expand its offerings in this area.
In 2009, YBLC launched its first green building project to educate students on energy efficiency and weatherization in a Chicago home. This summer (2010), with the addition of a thermal imaging camera and blower door test equipment supported by the Legacy grant funding, YBLC will train 30 to 40 students in these technologies and applications. Currently YBLC uses the Green Home Builder’s Institute (HBI) curriculum but it will now be designing and implementing its own educational program for students on home weatherization and certification.
Goodcity’s Food Desert Action – http://www.goodcitychicago.org/node/202
Awarded $3000 to help reconstruct a CTA bus into a mobile food market to serve areas of the city with little or no access to fresh produce.
Over 600,000 Chicago residents, primarily on the south and west sides of the city, live in food deserts—communities with little or no access to grocery stores, fruit or vegetable produce. With the help of the Legacy grant funds, Food Desert Action is retrofitting a city bus into a one-aisle, mobile store specializing in fresh and sustainable foods. The mobile food market will be accessible to low-income residents, especially the one-third of neighborhood residents relying on food stamps. The bus also has a substantial educational component focusing on dietary health and nutrition, and highlighting the green design elements of the vehicle.
A recent charette with Architecture for Humanity produced a green design which will repurpose seats and poles as part of the mobile market, convert the bus to biodiesel to allow the bus to be fueled by vegetable oil, and mount solar panels on the roof of the bus to provide renewable energy for the market. The drivers and staff will be trained as community ambassadors to give presentations about the vehicle and healthy eating options. The bus will be routed to neighborhood schools, churches, community centers, and senior buildings.
This food justice project is based in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood and is part of the U.S. Surgeon General initiative Building A Healthier Chicago. Food Desert Action is also partnering with the Umoja Student Development Corporation, a neighborhood high school youth leadership program, to engage youth involvement as volunteers in the project.
Sunlight of the Spirit Rooftop Recovery Garden – http://www.urbanhabitatchicago.org/projects/sunlight-of-the-spirit-garden/
Awarded $3000 to help build a green food-producing roof on a residential building that houses and provides services for individuals at risk of becoming homeless.
Legacy project funds will help support the construction of Sunlight of the Spirit’s Rooftop Recovery Garden, a new food-producing garden space atop an existing 36-unit residential and community services building in Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood. This roof garden is the first phase of an overall redesign project to improve energy efficiency through envelope upgrades and the reintroduction of natural light through restored skylights, and lessen environmental impact through vertical and horizontal planting, storm water collection, bioremediation, and pre-wiring for future rooftop photovoltaics.
The building houses over 100 clients of Jack Clark’s Family Recovering Communities; clients include those in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction, ex-offenders under electronic detention, and youth offenders ages 17-25. The space houses collaborative social programs like job training and placement service through the Second Chance Resource Center, and the Loaves & Fishes food pantry that serves 800 community members per week. The rooftop garden will help to supply the pantry with fresh produce—a much needed addition to the food offerings—and serve as an educational opportunity for the residents who are being trained in organic roof gardening techniques by Urban Habitat Chicago.
By summer 2011, Sunlight of the Spirit plans to develop and deploy a new sustainable curriculum using the garden for a 90-day youth program which targets at-risk youth recently released from prison. The garden will provide an opportunity for urban young adults to connect with nature and be educated in plant propagation techniques such as seed saving and grafting. It will also provide a community gathering place and encourage intergenerational contact.
Fuller Park Community Development Corporation – www.fullerpark.com
Awarded $2500 to help construct a walk and accessible observation point for the native prairie preserve in the only nature center on the south side of Chicago.
As the only nature center on the south side of Chicago that offers regular educational programming, Fuller Park’s Eden Place Nature Center (EPNC) provides neighboring residents, many of whom are low-income, with important access to ecological recreation, environmental education and the opportunity to participate in authentic conservation activities. Over the past ten years EPNC has grown into a
flourishing and thriving community center that draws thousands of visitors each year from the immediate community and across the nation for educational programs and festivals. EPNC is the official monarch butterfly conservation site for Illinois, home to a number of native and migrating birds, and a source of pride for the Fuller Park neighborhood.
With the help of the Legacy Project grant funds, Eden Place Nature Center is currently constructing a Prairie Walk and Lookout Point overlooking its native prairie preserve. Traditionally visitors have not been allowed to walk through the prairie in order to maintain a stable and thriving ecosystem. But the Prairie Walk will make it possible for visitors to enjoy and observe the sites and sounds of the entire ecosystm without disturbing the delicate native plant, insect, bird, and animal species.
The Prairie Walk project is being collaboratively designed and constructed by staff, volunteers, and graduates of South Point Academy, a job-training program run by Fuller Park Community Development for the homeless, chronically unemployed, and formerly incarcerated.
Family Shelter Service – www.familyshelterservice.org
Awarded $3000 to help perform energy audits of family shelter facilities in order to enable energy efficient retrofits.
Family Shelter Service (FSS) serves those affected by domestic violence by providing a network of interconnected programs and empowering individuals and families to realize their potential. A range of free services is available to victims at multiple shelter locations, including emergency support, a community counseling center, intermediate housing options, court advocacy, a 24-hour crisis hotline, and a program specifically designed for children.
FSS will use the Legacy grant money to work with energy raters to complete initial energy audits and baseline testing for twoshelters that are housed in older homes. This will lead to specific recommendations regarding building weatherization and exterior envelop renovations. With these improvements, FSS intends to illustrate that energy efficiency improvements can be made for little or no cost. This is especially important for small non-profits; by reducing their operations and maintenance costs, they will be able to apply more of their limited resources to providing vital services and programs to clients.
FSS will also use the project to support their current environmental education initiatives; in 2009 they were one of five domestic violence shelters across the country to be selected by two foundations for funding for a Nature Explore Classroom at a shelter, and they plan to incorporate energy efficiency into any environmental programming.
Academy for Global Citizenship Elementary School – www.agcchicago.org
Awarded $3000 to help construct a Solar Energy Learning Lab onsite.
The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) is a unique Chicago Public Contract Elementary School located on the southwest side of Chicago. With the help of the Legacy grant funds, the school is planning to install a demonstration Solar Energy Learning Lab onsite. The goal of this project is to teach students, school families and community members about solar energy. Situated in a low-income community, one of AGC’s goals is to show how renewable energy and sustainable living is a financial investment that over time is economically beneficial to the community. Just as important, since health and pollution concerns are more prevalent in industrial areas such as AGC’s neighborhood, the school wants to demonstrate that a shift to renewable energy can help reduce harmful pollutants. As a school, AGC is dedicated to teaching students a sense of environmental responsibility and stewardship—ways of life that are based around alternative energy, sustainable practices and healthy living. These subjects, along with recycling and composting, should be habits that children come to see as the norm.
Towards this goal, AGC is monitoring their energy use and production, and will use it to educate the youngest students on basic math skills as well as to teach community members about net metering, energy conservation techniques and other energy alternatives. The Solar Energy Learning Lab will be an interactive area on AGC’s playground where students and community members can get a closer look at the panels, sit underneath the shade that they cast, and learn from educational signage that will be posted within.
During the school day, the Learning Lab will provide an outdoor space where students can comfortably sit and learn. AGC will also use this space for PTA and community meetings as well as a prime location for their many volunteer guests to lead special activities.