<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Green News - Energy Saving Tips, Environmental News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/green http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usWed, 25 May 2016 04:43:12 -0500Wed, 25 May 2016 04:43:12 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Stunning Historic Photos of Air Pollution ]]> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 11:36:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/air-pollution-AP7004221649_7.jpg Click to see some fascinating images of air pollution throughout the US from the 1920s to the 1970s.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Green Car Wash Sanitizes Without Soap]]> Mon, 05 Aug 2013 12:37:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/128401773.jpg A car wash in Arizona installed a water filtration tank allowing high levels of oxygen to sanitize the water they use to clean customers' cars — all without soap. An environmental engineer at Arizona State University is skeptical about the car wash's filtration system.]]> <![CDATA[Energy for Sale: Is It Worth It?]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 12:58:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000003170932_722x406_37270083593.jpg Door-to-door salesmen, telephone calls and direct mail, all trying to sell you electricity or natural gas. The pitches promise to save you money. They are called alternative energy suppliers. There have been more than 1,000 consumer complaints about them to Maryland and D.C. authorities so far this year, and we've been receiving emails asking whether these companies are real and are the deals worth it. CLICK HERE for a list of legitimate suppliers.]]> <![CDATA[Giant Head Sculptures Pop up on Michigan Avenue]]> Tue, 02 Jul 2013 19:30:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000003595469_722x406_35825219986.jpg New sculptures are turning heads on Michigan Avenue and getting people to think green. LeeAnn Trotter reports.]]> <![CDATA[State-of-the-Art Green Workplace Provides Lunch, Games and Slides]]> Wed, 01 May 2013 14:13:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Slide_aweber.jpg AWeber Communications headquarters in Chalfont, Bucks County, Pa. isn't your average workplace as it features video games, a pool table and even slides. NBC10's Jesse Gary reports ahead of the ribbon cutting.
Click here for information on jobs

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Junkyard Trash Turns to Art]]> Thu, 25 Apr 2013 12:42:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/ben+in+trash.JPG With his castoff treasures rattling in the cart, Ben Cowden wheeled back toward his art studio in San Francisco's Recology Recycling Plant to continue work. Joe Rosato Jr. reports on a man who turns others trash into treasure. Read the full story here.

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.]]>
<![CDATA[Cemetery for Green-Friendly Burials]]> Tue, 23 Apr 2013 10:17:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/meadow.jpg A cemetery in Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia, has become environmentally friendly for burials.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Baxter Brewing Company Goes Green]]> Wed, 24 Apr 2013 13:49:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/baxter-brewing.jpg Luke Livingston, president and founder of Baxter Brewing Company, talks about ways in which he is expanding his business sustainably, with the help of John Rooks, president of The SOAP Group.]]> <![CDATA[D.C. Has The Worst Traffic]]> Tue, 05 Feb 2013 10:49:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/traffic-4.jpg Washington, D.C. has the worst traffic congestion in the nation, according to a new report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.]]> <![CDATA[Mayor Lays Out Environmental Roadmap]]> Tue, 25 Sep 2012 22:44:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Rahm-Emanuel-Sierra-Club.jpg

Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to make Chicago the greenest city in the world and says that doesn't have to have a negative impact on jobs.

In fact, he said the two goals can be achieved together.

"I do believe this is going to be the century of the city. And to have a city that grows and prospers both economically and for families, you have to  have an environmental policy and a jobs/economic growth policy that work together," Emanuel said Tuesday at a Sierra Club luncheon. "I think from everything from mass transit to water policy to open parks to recycling to closing two coal-fire power plants, it's all part of one integrated strategy."

Emanuel said his administration's plan -- dubbed "Sustainable Chicago" -- set clear environmental goals the city hopes to achieve by 2015.

One of the long-term goals is to get homeowners to use water meters so they can be charged based on the amount of water they use rather than an estimate. But he said the city isn't ready to make those water meters mandatory.

The mayor was honored by the Sierra Club for what the organization said were impressive signs of progress toward a healthier, greener city.

<![CDATA[Emanuel Deflects Questions About Solyndra]]> Fri, 03 Aug 2012 23:31:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/188*120/AP100524019427.jpg

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday deflected questions about his role in a loan guarantee for Solyndra, a green energy company that ultimately went bankrupt.

“It’s simple, you just talk to the White House counsel," the former White House Chief of Staff said during an appearance on WLS-AM. "They are answering all the questions and they will answer any questions you have on the matter."

Those questions come in response to a House Energy and Commerce Committee report, released Thursday, that shows Emanuel was a driving force behind the deal.

Included in the report is information -- previously reported -- contained in an Aug. 19, 2009 email sent from Aditya Kumar, the Deputy Assistant to Vice President Joe Biden and a senior advisor to Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, to Jacob Levine with the Office of Energy and Climate Change:

"Ron [Klain] wants to have this move through the process and NOT be in a ‘holding pattern.’ He has talked to Rahm about this, and feels like Rahm wants this too (barring any concerns) -- POTUS involvement was Rahm’s idea."

Last September, Emanuel denied any knowledge of the Solyndra loan.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and House Republicans have been critical of the Obama Administration deal.

Emanuel has said he's not concerned about the matter.

At a west side event outlining the expansion and overhaul of Early Childhood Education programs, Emanuel touted his progress locally in job creation, the housing market and education when asked about Solyndra.

"I'll leave Solyndra to you. I'm going to focus on the children of the city of Chicago," he said before walking away from the podium.

Solyndra was given more than $500 million in taxpayer dollars. It filed for bankruptcy in September 2011.

<![CDATA[Chicago's Top 14 "Eco-preneurs"]]> Thu, 05 Jul 2012 16:09:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/earthdaygallery.jpg Though some have called the "green" movement a passing fad or accused green-goers of being "trendy," some of those green-goers have a lot invested in sustainability: business. Of the many businesses with a primary interest in providing sustainable products or services in a sustainable way, there are a few that stand out. These fourteen entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial teams have set a high standard for green business ventures.]]> <![CDATA[Lincoln Park Offers Green Home Tours]]> Fri, 29 Jun 2012 16:17:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lincoln-park-green-home.jpg Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) wants to put Lincoln Park on the path to being a completely sustainable community. On June 25, the ward hosted a "Green Homes Tour" of several neighborhood spaces. Alicia Roman reports.]]> <![CDATA[Children Learn At A "Green School"]]> Thu, 21 Jun 2012 16:39:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/ACADEMYOFGLOBALCITZENSHIP.png Alicia Roman reports on the efforts of The Academy of Global Citizenship. It is a unique Chicago Public Charter school in that it incorporates green learning into their curriculum. ]]> <![CDATA[Chicago School Wins $50k Makeover]]> Tue, 05 Jun 2012 23:14:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/st.-cornelius-recycle.jpg

After months of counting, sorting, and collecting beverage containers in what St. Cornelius School's principal called a "dungeon" in the convent basement, the school has won a $50,000 grand prize for green improvements.

That money is part of almost $250,000 in prizes to schools for participation in PepsiCo's "Dream Machine School Makeover."

The Dream Machine Recycle Rally is a program to raise awareness for students in kindergarten through 12th grades.

Through the program, PepsiCo donates based on the number of cans collected to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, which offers education in small business management for post-9/11 veterans with disabilities, according to PepsiCo.

St. Cornelius beat out about 900 schools by collecting 885,000 beverage containers to be recycled, which averages out to 5,270 containers per student.

With that number, along with the containers out of the "dungeon" and into the open, the school took time for an assembly to celebrate the recycling they had done and the big money prize.

"When I came to St. Cornelius School two years ago, I was told this was the best-kept secret on the northwest side. I have to say, I think the secret is out," principal Christina Bowman said.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel came to the celebration and credited the school's teamwork for its success.

"The lesson is what happens when you work as a team, when focused on a goal, working together, rather than competing against each other, but what you can do achieving something as a team."

The congratulations for St. Cornelius come on the same day Emanuel announced he is teaming up with 14 commercial buildings for green improvements as part of the Retrofit Chicago's Commercial Buildings initiative.

But the initiative by adults did not stop the mayor from adding a few words of encouragement to the kids before he left.

"Don't ever bet against the kids of the city of Chicago," he said. They're the best kids in the world.

<![CDATA[14 Commercial Buildings Sign on to Retrofit Project]]> Tue, 05 Jun 2012 23:13:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/NBC-Tower_640x480.jpg

In an effort to make the city more energy efficient and attractive to business, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday announced that 14 commercial buildings had signed on to his Retrofit Chicago's Commercial Buildings Initiative.

The projects, his office said, will create more than 1,000 jobs and will eventually save the buildings more than $5 million annually in energy costs.

"Today is a major step forward for the City of Chicago, as we create a private sector complement for the work we are doing to ensure energy efficiency in our municipal buildings and infrastructure," he said in a statement.

The buildings, totaling 14 million square feet, range in age from 7 to 117 years old, the mayor's office said.

The mayor touted the effort during a visit to St. Cornelius School, in Jefferson Park on the city's northwest side. PepsiCo on Tuesday named the school its grand prize winner in the Dream Machine Recycle Rally "Dream Green School Makeover" contest. The school was awarded $50,000 to help fund green improvements.

"The private sector is joining the kids at St. Cornelius in a new energy and environmental policy for the whole city," he said. "Obviously you guys won [the PepsiCo challenge], but 899 other schools learned something also, about environmental policy, about working together, about setting a goal and about achieving something."

The buildings set to undergo retrofit projects include:

  • 224 South Michigan Avenue (Santa Fe Building), 224 South Michigan Avenue
  • 333 North Michigan Avenue, 333 North Michigan Avenue
  • 515 North State Street, 515 North State Street
  • The AT&T Building, 225 West Randolph Street
  • CNA Headquarters, 333 South Wabash Avenue
  • Fifth Third Center, 222 South Riverside Plaza
  • Franklin Center, 227 West Monroe Street & 222 West Adams Street
  • Hyatt Center, 71 South Wacker Drive
  • InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile, 505 North Michigan Avenue
  • The Marquette Building, 140 South Dearborn Street
  • NBC Tower, 454 North Columbus Drive
  • One Financial Place, 440 South LaSalle Street
  • Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, 301 East North Water Street
  • The Wrigley Building, 400-410 North Michigan Avenue

The projects will not be funded through the "Retrofit Chicago" program unveiled in March.

"[Building owners and managers are] going to do it from their own self-interests and their own capital," Emanuel said.

<![CDATA[Emanuel Urged To Save Chicago's Trees]]> Mon, 04 Jun 2012 18:30:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/l_emearld-ash-borer_600x400.jpg

The City Council’s Finance Committee approved a $1.4 million resolution plan Monday urging Mayor Rahm Emanuel to protect ash trees and save the city’s parkway nature.

Removal of Chicago’s ash trees, one of the most common trees in Chicago, estimated to comprise nearly 20 percent of the city’s tree population, will cost $70 million to $100 million within the next decade if treatment from the harmful and invasive emerald ash borer beetle is not ramped up, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The Bureau of Forestry announced the harmful beetle’s arrival in Chicago in June 2008. The bureau set out to treat more than 70,000 ash trees in four years, but budget cuts have hindered the processing, keeping the treated trees at around 18,000.

The emerald ash borer is responsible for destroying over 20 million trees in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, and Canada.

Once tree infestations reach a tipping point, saving the city’s landscape could become nearly impossible, said Rob Gorden, the director of Urban Forestry for Aborjet, the company which supplies treatment injections for ash trees.

The possibility of these degrading trees falling on pedestrians and commuters could pose serious financial setbacks for the city, Gorden said.

The city’s ash trees have not yet reach their tipping point, though many face death by chainsaw, but if measures are not taken Chicago’s green could get ugly.

Photo Credit: Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources]]>
<![CDATA[The Plant's Melanie Hoekstra on Reducing Your Company's Waste]]> Wed, 30 May 2012 14:03:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/173*120/ThePlantDiagram_mini.jpeg

"Going green" isn't just an empty, catchy slogan, and The Plant at 1400 W. 46th St. is proof of that. In July of 2010, Bubbly Dynamics LLC snatched up the former Peer Foods meat-processing plant at that address and have been converting into what's called a "vertical farm and food business incubator." Basically, as Director of Operations Melanie Hoekstra explains it, they specialize on closing the loop of inputs and outputs. In other words, they're looking to use all the potential waste from the meat plant and turn it into energy. It's fascinating, albeit slightly sci-fi stuff, since The Plant is now home to a kombucha brewery, a mushroom farm, a beer brewery, a bakery and also a shared kitchen. To find out more about this, I gave Hoekstra a call.

For our readers who aren't familiar, can you give a bit of background on The Plant?

Melanie Hoekstra: The Plant is a vertical farm and food business incubator. We're going to have 30,000 square feet of aquaponic farm estates. Aquaponic is when you have fish and also plants and the waste from the fish actually feeds the plants and then the plants filter the water for the fish. And then the rest of the space, because we're in an old meat-packing plant, it's actually going to be mostly kitchen spaces. The reason we can do this is because we have all this food-grade material throughout the building. When you are packing meat, a building has to be up to USDA code, and it's about as high of a regulatory level as you can get. So, we have all this food-grade material and we're building new kitchens, mostly for small- and medium-sized businesses and also for a beer brewery. That, plus, we're going to do research and educational programming on farming: everything from gardening to aquaponics for small businesses.

You mentioned inputs and outputs for a company in our emails. What does that mean?

Melanie Hoekstra: If I wanted to make a piece of bacon on the stove, the input would be the pan and the bacon and the heat and the output would be the bacon and the grease and the dirty pan, let's say. At The Plant, on the website, there's a really neat diagram that shows all the things that will go into the building and all the things that will come out of the building. So, the things that go are the inputs and the things that come out are the outputs. The idea is, for us at least, to make the most of all of the inputs and the outputs. We are in a building that really was slated to be torn down. The sellers of the buildings, the old meat-packing company had no expectation that anyone was going to buy this building.

Most of what you put out is waste when you're done doing whatever you do. So, for instance, back to my bacon example. If you can find someone to take the grease and make biodiesel out of it -- and I have no idea if that's actually possible with bacon grease -- but in our situation we are using the waste from beer brewing and from other food and manufacturing processes including things like fat rendering and also produce waste from produce distributors and making energy out of them. Then we consume that energy onsite. So, it's modeled after nature and how there is no waste there because everything that one organism puts out another organism uses.

Is there one type of industry that's harder to make these closed loops of inputs and outputs?

Melanie Hoekstra: I can't say that I would know, honestly. Sorry, I'm a lawyer and this is my first job out of law school. [Laughs.] I think that largely it comes from knowing your business really well and being able to know exactly what people need and how much of it you'll need and where you can get it from and if there are places you can get it from where it's a waste product to somebody else. For instance, manufacturing generally involves a lot of chemicals, right? I do know there are certain solvents that you can make in different ways. That's how chemical reactions work. You put in a certain amount of three ingredients and then you get this one ingredient. Well, if one of your ingredients is benzene because that's what it takes to catalyze the process of creating this solvent, maybe you can do it in a completely different way where it's maybe slightly longer but doesn't introduce benzene into the process. Then you can avoid using benzene and then that's great thing for the environment, it's probably cheaper. I think it's just a matter of knowing your business well and what you're trying to do.

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

Photo Credit: Matt Bergstrom]]>
<![CDATA[How Chicago Fashionista Brands are Going Green]]> Sat, 19 May 2012 04:36:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*160/ecoglasses.jpg

Green really is the new black, and Chicago's fashion scene is embracing this new trend. From eyewear to boots, our city has sustainable retail to thrill even the most hardcore style pros: Gone are the days where those who wanted apparel that was kinder to the earth were immediately steered toward boxy offerings made of hemp. Plus, retailers who have made the switch to eco-friendly have discovered the marketplace loves stores that offer greener products -- it fosters consumer loyalty, increases profits and attracts new clients. And, as a nice bonus, the staff feels great about working for an earth-conscious brand.

For those who are eco-curious and have been hankering to provide a socially conscious fashion experience for your customers, here's is a delicious peek at the sustainable stock of five Chicagoland retailers as well as some insight into how and why they went green.


123 N. Marion St. Oak Park, 708-445-7511

Why we went green: "I am in love with eco-friendly accessories, clothes and furniture," says Owner Takara Beathea-Gudell.

Going green tip: Extend the green shopping experience beyond clothing and accessories. Further solidify your brand by paying attention to the little things, like offering recycled shopping bags.

Planet Access Company Store

4727 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-754-8176

Why we went green: “We launched the store with a vision of selling socially responsible brands and eco-friendly clothing," says store manager Drew Lambert.

Going green tip: Consider extending your efforts to include supporting your community. It can be as simple as donating a portion of proceeds to a non-profit of your choice. Planet Access Company Store’s parent company, Search Inc., has been helping people with disabilities, live, learn, work and play in the Chicago area for over 40 years.

Essential Elements

1640 E. 87th St., 773-978-1200

Why they went green: "It's great to see and sell the artistry that designers come up with using sustainable materials and fabrications, and it makes us socially conscious," shared owner Melanie Whaley.

Going green tip: “My advice to other fashion retailers is to look for fun and stylish sustainable clothing and accessories that makes going green appealing. Also, make sure your staff is able to inform customers about inventory that does support the green movement, such as our Mosey bags made from recycled water bottles, [that] the customer would never know unless they read the fine print on the tags.”

Silver Room

1442 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-278-7130

Why they went green: Owner Eric Williams noticed people looking for environmentally friendly alternatives. His artists were also being hit with the rising costs of precious metals which resulted in products made with alternative materials like rubber, wood, and vintage fabrics (perfect for eco-aware clients.)

Going eco-tip: "Find what works in your industry and the latest technologies and trends in the field. Being a leader, innovator and at the forefront of the true meaning of green is always great. For example, try using alternative green methods that have not been used before.”

Labrabbit Optics

1104 N. Ashland Ave., 773-957-4733

Why they went green: Even though the vintage frames I stock at the shop are unused dead stock, they would otherwise go to waste because 95 percent of opticians are unwilling to outfit them with lenses," explains owner and optician Coyote DeGroot. "I combine my experienced skill set with the opportunity to give new life to an object from the past."

Going green tip: “It's essential to consider every object and process outside of its intended and traditional context, without cheapening the brand or compromising quality. I've seen a number of businesses use reclaimed materials that reflect their intended destination, like the landfill, a little too directly. It takes an innovative intelligence to find elegance in the ordinary.”


shopmayu.com, 847-363-7186

Why they went green: “I went 'green' as a direct result of my time in the Peace Corps in Peru,” shared founder Kate Robertson. “I met a group of artisans while working in the rural Andes Mountains, and together we developed the products that Mayu sells.” She noticed the artisans, who are indigenous people, were poorly treated and under compensated, so she partnered with them and pays them a living wage.

Client reaction: “Make sure the aspect of being green is well defined and explained. As more and more green businesses are popping up, it is important to differentiate yourself in a meaningful and credible way. This will enable consumers to sift through all the clutter and green jargon -- they want a reason to connect to your company, so make it easy for them.”

Jetta Bates-Vasilatos is founder of Twist Communications and a life stylist with 10+ years of award-winning consumer engagement/strategic planning experience for luxury and global brands like BMW and Coca-Cola. She also serves as an on-air correspondent and writer with a focus on luxury and experiential tourism, lifestyle, sustainability, and personal finance (how to be chic yet savvy). Jetta has appeared on stations such as WCIU-TV, KBS-TV(Korea), ABC-7, CLTV and KBC-TV (Kenya), writes for national print publications such as Essence, Recommend, Ebony and HomeStyle Design and is the host of the Jettasetting segment on WVON radio.

Visit her website jettasetting.com, find real-time tips on her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter: @jettaset.

<![CDATA[How to Earn Green While Going Green]]> Sat, 19 May 2012 04:35:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/300*120/CTA+newspaper+bin+on+L+system.jpg

With Earth Day still a recent memory, being more “green” is top of mind. A recent survey from the Office Depot Small Business Index showed that 61 percent of small businesses are actively trying to go green. So surely you are, too, right?

While some Chicagoans joked and slapped high fives to global warming after our unseasonably mild winter this year, the truth is global warming isn’t such a pretty picture. The things we hold near and dear as Chicagoans including our food and our lake are greatly at risk due to environmental change.

But what does that mean as a small business owner in Chicago? And what can you do about it?
At the end of the day, greening up your office isn't just good for the environment: It can boost your bottom line both by increasing your customer loyalty and saving you money.

Here's how to start.

1. Re-use and recycle, even if you don't have recycling pickup. You can recycle a lot.
But where, when, and how? The University of Chicago has a comprehensive list of recyclables and where to recycle both on their campus and throughout the city.
The Chicago Climate Action Plan is also an excellent resource.

2. Turn that scrap into cash. At this point you most likely have a recycling bin in your office. If not, that’s your first step. Your second? Create a second bin just for cans. Metal can quickly pile up in an office environment, and it’s not just canned soup and pop. You may have some chairs, cabinets, or in my case, a broken garment rack or two lying around. Don’t just toss that metal. Turn it in for scrap. There are a number of companies that will pick up your scrap for free. A quick Internet search will lead you to the one closest to your business. I went to gotscrap.com, put in my zip code and found a whole list of scrappers and the types of metals they’ll take. I’ve also heard some good things about Chicago Scrap Metal Buyers.

3. Adios junk mail! The City of Chicago has joined forces with Catalog Choice to debut a zero-waste initiative allowing consumers and businesses to stop unwanted phone books, catalogs, coupons, and credit-card solicitations at the source! The Chicago Climate Action Plan has a goal of diverting 90 percent of Chicago waste from our landfills by 2020. Stop junk mail for good by signing up for the mail preference service here.

Hand-loomed and sewn in Chicago, Lara Miller's work is strongly influenced by the city’s architectural and cultural landscape. Hand-looming, a process similar to weaving, is a dying artisan craft that is not only cherished, but a staple of the Lara Miller collection. Deemed as sultry and sophisticated as the women who wear them by elle.com, Lara's pieces can be wrapped, reversed, and most notably flipped upside down to reveal a new look.

Born and raised in Chicago, Lara began her education at Syracuse University and graduated with a BFA focused on Fashion and Textiles in 2003 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Lara is a founding member of the Mayor's Fashion Council and served as the Executive Director of the Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy's on State Street from 2009 - 2012. A sustainable style pioneer, Lara was recently honored as a recipient of the 5th Annual Chicago Magazine Green Awards. Recognized for her leadership in emerging fashion businesses, Lara was awarded the Leadership in Emerging Business Award on Capitol Hill from the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce. A 2009 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation semi-finalist in sustainable design, Lara is also a Lexus Hybrid Living partner who’s work has been seen on the Sundance Channel, ABC Nightly News, and in the Wall Street Journal, W Magazine, Vanity Fair, Italian Vogue, Lucky Magazine, amongst others.


<![CDATA[Shedd to Host Global Earth Day Picnic]]> Sat, 21 Apr 2012 10:27:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*128/Earth+Final.jpg The Nature Conservancy will team up with the Shedd Aquarium to host Picnic for the Planet 2012 to set the record for largest picnic in 24 hours on Sunday, April 22 and raise awareness for the benefits of buying local on keeping the earth green.]]> <![CDATA[Car Charging Stations Coming To Midway, O'Hare]]> Fri, 20 Apr 2012 20:51:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/car+charger.jpg

Electric car drivers will soon have more stations at Chicago's airports where they can charge their vehicles.

The Chicago City Council approved the proposal Thursday to expand the number of electric charging stations.

O'Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport each will have six stations that can charge a vehicle in four to six hours and one station that can charge a vehicle in less than an hour.

A concession agreement lets the Chicago Department of Aviation collect a portion of revenue from the charging stations. CDA will be reimbursed for the cost of electricity as part of the revenue sharing agreement.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the charging stations are an example of his administration's commitment to make Chicago a green city.

Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
<![CDATA[How Customers Can Influence Business to Go Green]]> Fri, 20 Apr 2012 20:28:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/183*120/recycling944.jpg

This past week was Earth Week, and were all supposed to spend all seven saving the planet. Earth Week, going green, carbon credits, LEED certified, it can all be a bit daunting. The Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel discussion this past week that featured speakers from all different aspects of “going green” and what quickly became evident is that "going green" can mean something different for everyone and that's okay, and probably a good thing.

We hosted four speakers: David Yourd of JDY Gourmet, John Hamilton of Onyx Distribution, Collene Wells of the Compost Office, and Dr. Jason Fenema of Ravenswood Health Center. As you may have guessed from the company names, the speakers represented many different aspects of being green. In each of their respective areas, though, they're still making a big difference.

A message that came through in each of their presentations is consumers can drive the green movement. John Hamilton noted that conversations with clients about using eco-friendly products have historically focused on encouraging them to buy it because it was the right thing to do. He stated that now his clients are also buying the products because their clients are demanding it and in the long run it is now good for their bottom line. David Yourd echoed that sentiment. While many of the chefs he works with are buying meat that's been raised humanely and without antibiotics or hormones, some chefs still needed convincing due to the price point being higher.

The “convincing” has come from the restaurant patrons asking their waiter where does the meat come from. Chris Dallas, owner of HarvesTime Foods, recently changed out his traditional awning and replaced it with a solar panel awning that produces energy for all his exterior LED lighting. He has always been concerned about the environment and doing his part, but it was discussions with his customers that encouraged him to go in this direction.

It's exciting to me that we as consumers don’t have to feel helpless in our desire to improve our environment. A consumer can choose to shop locally, ask where their food is coming from, walk or take transit instead of driving. Each choice sends a powerful message and when communities embrace that message the change can be incredible. For business owners who want to be greener it is nice to know that many customers are watching and appreciate the efforts you are making. So go out there and save your corner of the planet -- and not just next week.

Melissa Flynn is passionate about her community and passionate about her job as the executive director for the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce. For the past seven years she has been creating a sense of place that has helped to transform the Lincoln Square community. Flynn is a skilled and experienced executive with a proven track record of creating a successful business climate balanced by strong values of sustainability and community. Under her leadership in 2011, the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce achieved the highly coveted three-star Accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

<![CDATA[Chicago Moms Raise "Green" Babies]]> Fri, 20 Apr 2012 18:32:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/430PPKGGREENBABIES_8519247_722x406_2225191523.jpg A Chicago group of mothers is learning how to raise their babies with the environment in mind.]]> <![CDATA[Kendra Peterson on Running a Gluten-Free Business]]> Wed, 18 Apr 2012 16:08:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/210*120/drizzlekitchen.jpg

As a personal chef in Chicago, Kendra Peterson serves her clients gluten-free fare with a focus on fresh produce and clean ingredients. As an entrepreneur, she manages dozens of clients, three chefs and the marketing to grow her business, Drizzle Kitchen. I got in touch with Kendra to have her share her business and culinary philosophies.

What inspired you to create Drizzle Kitchen?

Kendra Peterson: I had just moved back to Chicago [after] a stint in Ohio and would spend a lot of time with my sisters and their families. After preparing the food for many of my nieces and nephews’ birthday parties, my sister’s friends began asking if I cooked professionally. Being of the attitude of, “Say yes and then figure it out,” my sisters said, "Yes! She can prepare healthy meals for families that you simply reheat. No mess, no grocery shopping and healthy, delicious meals!"

For a very long time I had been trying to figure out how to marry the ideas of nutrition with the taste of really good cuisine, and here it was landing in my lap! So, after I cooked for a few lovely families that helped me work out my kinks, word started spreading and more and more people began looking for healthy meals that I would prepare in their homes and leave for them to reheat for dinner.

I found there was a real need for well-produced food that was easy. I was able to create more "time" in the lives of mothers, whether they worked or stayed home. As the business grew and a few years passed, I found that many of my new clients approached me because of food allergies, so I placed a big emphasis on focusing on allergy-free cuisine. With a recent discovery of my own gluten allergy, Drizzle Kitchen is now dedicated to being a fully gluten-free private-chef service.

In such a food-centric city how have you carved out your own niche?

Kendra Peterson: I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing people. My clients range from professional athletes to families to actors to busy singles. The common denominator between them all is they wanted innovative healthy cuisine, with the biggest emphasis on allergies. So that is what we focus on. We do not provide private chef services; we provide nutritionally balanced, gluten free private chef services. With my background in nutrition and food science, combined with years of experience in gluten-free cuisine, my clients feel confident in my meals.

What resources did you tap into to create your own business?

Kendra Peterson: Because the business is not brick and mortar yet, I did not have to raise any money initially. Rather, where I focused my energy was in networking and really meeting people in the industry and learning from anyone I could. I began volunteering with Imerman Angels and with Step Up Women's Network, both urban-based organizations that held philosophies aligned with my own. Also, organizations that were made up of the right age demographic of like-minded people I wanted to meet. I did a lot of research online as far as private chefs in other cities, what their rates were, how they organized their businesses and such. I also just talked a lot about what I did to anyone and everyone. When you are speak passionately about your career, people will be interested in what you do!

What is the most important lesson you've learned as a business owner?

Kendra Peterson: You have to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe you can do it, nobody will. I guarantee there are going to be times in which people will doubt you and people will criticize you. But you have to continue pushing forward. Use your passion and drive to push you past the negativity and accomplish everything you hope to.

What marketing tools have you found the most effective in growing your business?

Kendra Peterson: Social media is beyond important. It is necessary. Twitter, blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, Foursquare and websites are all things that people use to do their research for businesses. They are also things people come back to for constant information. Facebook and Twitter are great platforms for me to share food and nutrition news that I think people need to have. In regards to advertising, I have been fortunate enough to have amazing clients who spread my business by word of mouth! I have also been featured in publications and in a handful of TV spots that always provide marketing. Really, for me, finding the right people to surround myself with, both industry and non-industry, who encompass the same food and nutrition beliefs as me has been the most important. I have a community of people I believe in and who believe in me, we feed off each other and the marketing is a beautiful by-product of that.

What's your five-year plan?

Kendra Peterson: I am currently writing a cookbook, so the hope is to have that finished and ready to go as soon as possible! I am also planning on moving operations to a brick and mortar space in Chicago within the year. I would love to eventually have a small space with just enough room for a big, beautiful, wood table where people can come for private cooking lessons, intimate cooking parties and the like. The next two summers I am working on spreading Drizzle Kitchen to the Hamptons, to work with talented friends in the yoga world for combined retreats and intimate cooking/yoga weekend escapes. I want to be able to reach as many people as possible and teach them about the beauty of eating gluten-free foods that are just naturally gluten-free and delicious.

Rachel Gillman has an insatiable appetite for dining out and an obsession with the restaurant industry. She's also fascinated by entrepreneurs and enjoys uncovering the story behind building a business from scratch. You can follow her on Twitter @RachelGillman.