Bill Clinton discusses new ‘green’ initiatives in Chicago

The Associated Press, Brain Kersey


The Associated Press, Brain Kersey

By Deanna Bellandi

CHICAGO – Al Gore has a Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental work, but it was his running mate, former President Bill Clinton, who was here Wednesday unveiling green initiatives.

Through his foundation Clinton is partnering with the city, an international commercial real estate company and a green building group to help improve the energy efficiency of schools, multifamily housing buildings and commercial structures, including Chicago’s Sears Tower and its massive Merchandise Mart, a building so large it has its own zip code.

“We waste too much energy, we ignore clean sources of energy,” Clinton said.

The partnerships are part of an initiative Clinton’s foundation launched last year to help fight climate change.

The Merchandise Mart, a center of Chicago’s wholesale design industry, will spend about $50 million over the next 15 years become more energy efficient, from power and cooling systems to rooftop gardens on the 4.2 million-square-foot building, said Christopher Kennedy, president of Merchandise Mart Properties.

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    Kennedy expects the efficiencies to eventually yield substantial cost savings.

    “We don’t look at anything unless it’s got at least a 10 percent return,” said Kennedy, son of the late Robert F. Kennedy.

    In addition to the city of Chicago, the Clinton foundation has partnered with GE Real Estate, a commercial firm that controls millions of square feet in buildings scattered throughout 31 countries, to build on that company’s efforts to make its buildings more energy efficient.

    “This is a huge deal,” said Clinton, who made the announcement at a conference on environmentally friendly building initiatives.

    Clinton’s group also will work with the U.S. Green Building Council, a group that includes building industry professionals, to help elementary and secondary schools make changes to cut down energy consumption.

    Chicago has a reputation for undertaking environmentally friendly initiatives and Clinton commended those efforts, including the scores of rooftop gardens that help conserve energy like the one atop City Hall.

    “There is no city in America that has done more on green roofs than Chicago,” he said.

    Clinton’s group also said it will work with the city to develop a program aimed at making multifamily housing buildings in Chicago more energy efficient.

    After the conference, Clinton attended a South Side rally for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.