Since its launch, there have been many questions about the Chicago Climate Action Plan (CCAP). Below are some of the questions we have been asked by students, reporters, and other cities.


Questions organized by theme:



How was the Plan formed?

Today, Chicago is one of the world’s greenest and most livable cities, thanks to strong partnerships and visionary leadership between government, residents and businesses. Chicago leads the way in terms of green roofs, our public transit system offers efficient alternatives to driving, our bicycling program has built more than 165 miles of bike-ways, and our energy efficiency programs help Chicagoans save thousands of dollars.

It was with that background in mind that Former Mayor Daley created a multi-stakeholder task force to produce the Chicago Climate Action Plan. The Task Force created a Plan that:

        i.   Determines the challenges we face as our climate changes

        ii.  Describes the sources of our greenhouse gas emissions

        iii. Sets goals to reduce our emissions and adapt to changes already affecting us

        iv. Find ways to leverage our knowledge to improve our economy and quality of life

        v.  Outlines concrete, achievable goals for all those who make Chicago their home

Through the creation of the CCAP, we were able understood the science behind how we expect Chicago’s climate to change.

We developed a “best in class plan” which we hope other cities can learn more. With that in mind, a Lessons Learned document was created so cities can learn from the implementation of the Chicago Climate Action Plan.


Where do the Plan’s goals come from? And are we on target to meet our 2020 goals?

The goals outlined in the Plan are based on the Kyoto Protocol and were designed to align with other governing bodies in the United States and internationally.

Chicago’s goal is to reach a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020, and 80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. Achieving this goal will also help reduce other forms of harmful gases, such as nitrous oxide, which will improve overall air quality.  

We will be conducting a 2010 greenhouse gas emissions inventory in 2011 and should have a better sense of where we stand after it is completed.


How is the Plan’s progress tracked?

There are 5 strategies and 35 actions that make up the Chicago Climate Action Plan. CCAP is unique in that it has an associated greenhouse gas reduction goal per action for each of the 26 greenhouse gas mitigation actions in the plan. The data for each of these actions is compiled in a web-based platform through ENXSuite, which allows CCAP stakeholders to enter metrics for their work that contributes to CCAP progress. This allows us to monitor progress more closely. As of March 2011, the CCAP is more than 8% of the way towards its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction goal.

Who are the Plan’s key partners and how do they work together?

CCAP engages many stakeholders and partners to help it move forward. Here is a short list of key partners and how they interact.

City of Chicago: The City’s many departments contribute to the Plan in many ways, and the Chicago Department of Environment is leading the charge. There are 20 departments and sister agencies, like the Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Schools, that have detailed CCAP workplans. Staff from those departments and sister agencies meet monthly to go over projects, share new ideas, and hear updates on the Plan.

Global Philanthropy Partnership (GPP):
GPP is a non-profit partner that provides staff to manage communications, outreach, and retrofit projects.


Civic Consulting Alliance (CCA): CCA helps provide oversight to make sure projects are moving forward and helps find pro-bono partners to provide research, implementation assistance and evaluation.


Green Ribbon Committee: The Green Ribbon Committee is a group of Chicago civic, business, and organization leaders. The roles of the Committee are to:

  • Provide an independent review of the Chicago Climate Action Plan performance;
  • Recommend areas where adjustments are needed;
  • Report progress and problems to the mayor at least annually and more often if needed;
  • Provide problem solving and thought partnership; and
  • Commit to action in supporting CCAP


What is Chicago doing to prepare for climate change?

In addition to its efforts to mitigate greenhouse gases to decrease the impact of climate change in Chicago, the Chicago Climate Action Plan is preparing the city for the effects of climate change that have been scientifically projected to occur.  In order to comprehensively prepare Chicago for climate change, CCAP is adapting three target areas: Chicago’s built environment, natural environment, and people.  By defining adaptation actions across three target areas, CCAP can enhance its ability to identify gaps and gauge progress toward preparing for climate change.     


What is the Plan’s ability to move forward despite not having federal climate policy?

The Chicago Climate Action Plan has built a community of environmental leaders in Chicago who are moving the sustainable agenda forward.  The entire community is responsible for taking action to reduce the impacts of and prepare for climate change.  In Chicago we are working successfully toward this goal.  For example, a community of Green Staff and a Green Steering Committee of executive City leaders throughout over 20 City departments and agencies are leading by example through implementing over 450 sustainable actions. CCAP is creating an avenue for green-minded citizens and professionals to accomplish sustainable priorities as we face the challenges presented by climate change. 


What are the weather impacts from climate change in Chicago? 

The following climate change impacts for Chicago were drawn and summarized from “High-Resolution Climate Projections: Connecting Global Change to Local Impacts,” a presentation given by Katharine Hayhoe, Research Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science at Texas Tech University and Expert Reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


Days over 95 degrees Fahrenheit: Under a high emissions scenario, the Midwest could experience ~45-85 days over 95° Fahrenheit (F) by the end of the century.  (In comparison, the Chicago Climate Action Plan's high emissions scenario indicates that Chicago will experience 31 days over 95° F.)


The winter and summer seasons are "migrating." As the Midwest's climate changes, patterns may not be consistent across seasons.  By the end of the century, winters could feel like Pittsburgh, PA and summers could feel like Knoxville, TN or, under high emissions, Baton Rouge, LA.


Winter may be warmer, and summer may be much warmer as compared to
the 1961-1990 average. 

Winters in 2040, (considering high & low emission scenarios), could be 2-3° Celsius (C) warmer, and in 2070, 3-5° C warmer.  Summers in 2040 could be 3-5° C warmer and in 2070, 3.5-7.5° C  warmer. By 2085, there could be 450-1,200 heat-related Chicago metro-area deaths per year, (per the 6 million people residing in the Chicago-metro area).


Periods of precipitation and dryness could be enhanced when they are least needed.  Winter and spring may be wetter, and summer may be drier as compared
to the 1961-1990 average. 

- Spring and winter in 2040 could have 10-20% more precipitation events, and in 2070, 20-35% more precipitation events. 

- Summers in 2040 could have 5-10% less precipitation events and by 2070, 10-15% less precipitation events.


Great Lake changes levels:

Although evaporation and precipitation are currently keeping Great Lakes levels stable, as we approach 2020, lake levels may begin to decrease by approximately 6 inches to increased evaporation. Although lake levels vary naturally from year to year, long-term trends can be discerned: under a high emissions scenario, the average level of Lake Michigan could decrease by up to 18 inches by the end of this century. This drop would be caused by warmer temperatures and decreased ice cover, leading to more evaporation.


Plant Hardiness Zones:

The Midwest's Plant Hardiness Zones have shifted significantly and are projected to shift one-half to one full zone every 30 years. Chicago's tree species are shifting from maple, ash, and birch to oak and hickory. From 1990 to 2006, Northern Illinois shifted from Plant Hardiness Zone 5 to Zone 6, representing a 10° F range change in the lowest temperature of the year.


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How is the Plan funded?

The CCAP has received Federal Stimulus funding, state funding, pro-bono consultant support, foundation support, utility partners and City of Chicago in-kind support.

Since its launch in 2008 through September 2010, CCAP has received or leveraged more than $142 million. Those funds are coming from many sources, including*

- Federal Stimulus Funds
- In kind services
- City of Chicago (excluding all staff time)
- National and local foundations
- State funds**
Utility partners

* All values are approximate and include only activities that are beyond business as usual. Non-profit housing partner contributions are not included.
** Not including $300 million in funds for Chicago Regional Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE)


How much money has the CCAP saved?

The CCAP helps save residents, businesses and the City money by encouraging, supporting and implementing money-saving programs and projects such as conducting energy efficiency retrofits of homes, buildings and streetlights, reusing construction materials onsite or at another site rather than landfilling and recycling old appliances and replacing them with more energy-efficient models.   


Examples of specific projects include the Green Office Challenge, which has saved commercial and office buildings more than $5 million by reducing energy use, waste, and water use, the renovation of the Richard J. Daley Center which saves more than $200,000 each year in energy costs, and the O’Hare Modernization Program, which has saved more than $120 million by reducing 43 million miles in truck trips, 6.5 million gallons in fuel and reusing 17 million cubic yards of soil on-site.  


The community-based organizations that make up the Energy Action Network, in its first year, helped save Chicago residents more than $30 million in utility bill assistance, and helped roughly 2,384 homes cut their energy usage by an average of 20%.


Other examples include the CNT Energy Savers Program, which provides grants and financing options for energy efficiency improvements in multi-family buildings with affordable to low-income renters and saves $360,000 every year.


What is the value of trees? Wetlands? Open space?

Chicago’s natural areas provide a multitude of ecosystem services, from improved air quality and livability to stormwater management. Many of these services are seen as free benefits to society, lacking economic value or a formal market.

Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, trees, parks and our neighboring wildlife don’t just make Chicago a nice place to live, they also provide vital benefits such as clean air to breathe and fresh water to drink.  These ‘ecosystem benefits’ are the by-products of natural processes and can include filtering stormwater, preventing soil erosion, removing pollutants from the air as well as more in-direct services such as increased home prices and providing neighborhoods with their character and charm. 


Some of these benefits can have direct economic value: A 2007 study identified that the trees in the City remove 754 tons of pollutants from the air each year, a $6.4 million savings. Some can have in-direct values: A 2004 study suggests that Chicago beaches are valued at between $800 million to just over $1 billion each year by those using the beaches.


Many other benefits are too subjective and difficult to be valued accurately such as the role of experiences in nature during childhood.  Nature’s services are all around us in Chicago and often we don’t recognize them until they aren’t there so we need to do what we can to protect, enhance and promote what we have for all Chicagoans. 


Where can I find information about green jobs?

The City of Chicago presented its green job progress in the 2009 report ‘Chicago Green Jobs for All’.


Programs such as Greencorps Chicago, Windy City Harvest and the Delta Institute provide green job training for those with multiple barriers to employment while City Colleges, Chicago Center for Green Technology’s Green Tech U and apprenticeship programs such as the IBEW Local 134 provide professional development for those adding environmental content knowledge. 


The Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative is a local coalition promoting and networking around green job opportunities and national organizations such as Green for All and the Blue/Green Alliance are helpful resources as well.  The emerging ‘green economy’ has opportunities at all levels and hopefully the resources above will help you find your place in one of these opportunities.


How do other Chicago-area regional planning plans relate the CCAP, such as The Climate Action Plan for Nature and the GO TO 2040 Plan?

All of these plans are complementary. The City, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and local organizations work together to align the values, actions and implementation efforts and look for ways each plan can complement and build off each other.


Staff working on the Chicago Climate Action Plan also helped create the Climate Action Plan for Nature. Click here for more on Climate Action Plan for Nature.


For more on the GO TO 2040 Plan, visit their website.


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 How can I request a CCAP speaker at my event?

You can request a speaker by sending an email to  You will be sent a request form to fill out and email back. The CCAP team will review the request to see if a representative is available to speak on the topic at that time and get back to you.


When is your next public meeting or event?

Public events are listed in the “News & Events” section. Events are typically free of charge but registration may be required.


Past events CCAP has been involved in or hosted include:

  • Earth Hour
  • Earth Day
  • Green Festival
  • Bike to Work Week
  • Lollapalooza
  • Carbon Nation Celebration
  • North Lake Shore Earth Day
  • Field Museum’s Climate Change Exhibit
  • Museum of Science and Industry’s Climate Matters Exhibit

How are you engaging communities?

Residents, businesses, organizations and institutions are engaged in many different ways. The Field Museum is conducting research in Chicago neighborhoods to learn more about perceptions of climate change and the environment. This research is helping develop more effective programs and messages  To date, The Field Museum has worked in seven different communities: South Chicago, North Kenwood-Oakland/Bronzeville, Pilsen, West Ridge, Roseland, Forest Glen, and with the Polish community primarily along the Milwaukee Corridor. You can read their reports online. Lessons from the Field Museum research are incorporated into the messages and outreach activities that engage the diverse range of Chicago communities.


Many social service groups form the Energy Action Network (EAN). EAN is made of 27 locations in Chicago’s neighborhoods that provide utility bill assistance, cost saving weatherization information as well as other social services. Find an EAN site near you.


In the winter of 2010-11, three Green Hall Meetings were hosted across the City. More than 150 Chicagoans gathered with representatives from the Chicago Climate Action Plan to talk about the Plan, explore what their community is doing, and provide ways for residents and businesses to get involved.


The Chicago Green Office Challenge enlists businesses in Chicago’s central business district to lower their carbon footprint. The Green Office Challenge works with property management firms and tenants to track and reduce the energy, water, and waste that they use. It is a friendly competition between the participants. Seminars and an awards recognition ceremony are also part of the program. More than 150 companies took part in the most recent phase of the Green Office Challenge. Learn more at

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What are the hours and location at the Chicago Center for Green Technology (CCGT)?

The CCGT is open Mondays – Saturdays.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays: 9am – 5pm
Tuesday and Thursdays: 9am – 8pm
Saturdays: 9am – 4pm
445 N. Sacramento Blvd.


You can learn more on the CCGT website.


What are the hours at the Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facility (HCCRF)?

The HCCRF is open:
Tuesdays from 7am – noon
Thursdays from 2-7pm
The 1st Saturday of the month from 8am – 3pm
1150 N. North Branch St.

You can learn more on the HCCRF webpage.

How can I get involved in the Chicago Climate Action Plan?

There are many ways to get involved. Find your place in one of our volunteer programs, like the Chicago Conservation Corps or the Chicago Center for Green Technology Learn more online.


Where can I get my other CCAP questions answered?

If you have a question that hasn't been answered yet, please send us an email to


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[1] Katharine Hayhoe presented “High-Resolution Climate Projections: Connecting Global Change to Local Impacts” to City of Chicago Green Staff on May 12, 2010.  All facts are taken from this presentation, except where noted

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