Saturday, November 29, 2008

Environmental Stewardship Field and Category

Emcee: Debra Poneman

Our next inductee is the Center for Neighborhood Technology.

Thirty years ago, people thought CNT was a little crazy. They grew tomatoes in their office. They were the roof top garden people. They wanted to reduce the need for large scale storm water projects, and thought locally managed systems were better.

They were agitators. They challenged policies that did not invest in the health and welfare of the people or the environment of Chicago.

Today most people still see CNT as visionary, but no longer eccentric. They still think outside of the box. They keep trying new ideas. They advocate for the ones that work to promote sustainability and energy efficiency. They still “think and do” to improve the quality of life in cities. And their holistic approach to urban areas is paying off. CNT is still one step ahead of the pack, but its solutions are changing the face of regions across the nation.

At its core, CNT believes that having great information can lead to solutions you never expected to problems that seem intractable. CNT has invented new ways to keep score on greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, housing costs, and the role of plants in water management. CNT has used its scorecards to change established practice.

Their work with cities and communities to analyze and develop urban solutions in the areas of climate change, green infrastructure, transit, and energy is paying off. They have helped build coalitions that are creating strong, sustainable communities. They have found ways to reduce the economic and environmental burdens on individual households, lessened our combined environmental foot print, and ultimately helped to envision regions, cities, and countries that are more economically and environmentally sustainable.

CNT may have marched to a different drummer over the past 30 years, but they are proud to say that they have been a force in how cities are perceived and embraced as efficient communities. Cities have assets that need to be recognized. These assets help citizens save money and municipalities to attract new resources to invest in economic and environmental quality.

While CNT’s ideas may have been on the fringe three decades ago, they are at the center of the U.S. and global concerns now.

CNT is honored to be selected as a recipient to the Environmental Hall of Fame. The strength of their work lies in the creative, smart, and hard-working people who come up with new ways to understand cities. CNT’s staff often takes common wisdom and turns it inside out to find unexpected solutions. By looking at a different side, CNT has often come up with unique solutions--the secret to their success!

Accepting for CNT is CEO Kathy Tholin.