Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed Tuesday, April 22 as "Earth Day" in Illinois and urged residents to get outdoors and involved in keeping Illinois at the forefront of conservation and sustainability. The Governor also discussed the work the state is doing to improve sustainability and protect our environment. Today's proclamation is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to protect our natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.
"We want every day to be Earth Day in Illinois and everyone should do their part to help preserve, sustain and beautify our state," Governor Quinn said. "Study after study is finding that Illinois is leading the way in sustainability -- from the most communities using renewable energy to being number one in the nation for sustainable buildings. By working together we can keep the progress going and make Illinois the greenest state in the nation."
Later this week, Governor Quinn will host The Council of Great Lakes Governors' (CGLG) 2014 Governors' and Premiers' Meeting. The meeting will bring a number of U.S. Governors and Canadian Premiers to Illinois to discuss ways to ensure that the entire Great Lakes region is economically sound and environmentally conscious in addressing today's problems and tomorrow's challenges. Governor Quinn is the Co-Chair of the non-partisan partnership of the Governors of the eight U.S. states that border the Great Lakes, with Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec.
Since taking office, Governor Quinn has led Illinois on a path to sustainability. Earlier this month, the Governor announced $16.5 million in investments for 46 local park projects across Illinois. Last weekend the Governor announced a $1.6 million investment in environmental and education projects along the Lake Michigan shoreline and in the Millennium Reserve-Calumet region. The projects are funded through the Illinois Coastal Management Program, which was formed in 2012 by Governor Quinn to protect Illinois' 63-mile Lake Michigan shoreline.
Last month, a new report found that Illinois leads the nation in the number of communities using renewable electricity. The 91 communities that have transitioned to 100 percent renewable electricity represent more than 1.7 million individuals. According to the report, demand for renewable energy from the state is more than six terawatt hours, a reduction in greenhouse gas comparable to taking more than one million cars off the road. The report was released by the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, LEAN Energy US, the Illinois Solar Energy Association and George Washington University Solar Institute.
In February, the U.S. Green Building Council ranked Illinois number one among all 50 states in the sustainable building design movement. Illinois has more than 29 million square feet of certified green buildings, or 2.29 square feet for every resident. Utilizing less energy and water, LEED-certified spaces save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce carbon emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.
In his State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2014, Governor Quinn announced that the available funding from the Illinois Clean Water Initiative (ICWI) will be doubled to $2 billion and stormwater management infrastructure projects will also be eligible for low-interest loans as well as drinking water and wastewater treatment plants and distribution and collection systems. First announced in Governor Quinn's 2012 State of the State address, ICWI was launched in the fall of 2012 and has created several thousand jobs in communities across Illinois. To learn more visit CleanWater.Illinois.gov.
Illinois is a leader in solar energy. In 2013, Governor Quinn, along with Shedd leadership and Illinois sustainability champions, unveiled a 265-kilowatt project that is the biggest solar panel installation in any cultural institution in the state. The energy-efficient panels are part of Shedd's Master Energy Roadmap -- an ambitious energy initiative aiming to cut energy consumption in half by 2020, transforming the aquarium into the nation's first clean energy-powered cultural institution.
The Governor set a green example for all Illinois residents by transforming the 159-year old Illinois Executive Mansion, visited by Abraham Lincoln and six other of our nation's Presidents, into a model of sustainable living. In 2010, Governor Quinn planted his own vegetable garden inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama to help offer a healthy menu for Executive Mansion guests; installed rain barrels to divert rainwater out of the municipal sewer system and into the Mansion's vegetable garden; created a compost pile to transform food scraps and landscaping debris into rich nutrients which are spread over the Mansion's vegetable garden, shrubs and trees; and solar panels, donated by three Illinois firms, were installed to make Illinois the second Governor's Mansion in the U.S. to go solar.
In 2011, the Illinois Executive Mansion became the first in the nation to install a charging station for electric vehicles. In 2012, LED lighting was installed throughout the Executive Mansion. The new system consumes 90 percent less energy, lasts for 10 years and poses less of a threat to historic artifacts. Additionally, digital water meters are installed to better monitor usage; aging air conditioners were replaced with an energy efficient system.
The Governor today also encouraged all state employees to participate in "No Print Week," a program from April 21-25, to help increase awareness about paper usage and reduce unnecessary paper consumption. "No Print Week" comes after the success of 2013's "No Print Day." In fiscal year 2013, Illinois recycled 5,521,906 pounds of paper, 830,714 pounds of OCC (card board), 2,486 pounds of plastic, 4,114 pounds of aluminum, 103,449 pounds of scrap metal from empty food cans and 48,179 pounds of assorted comingled items.
For more information on Earth Month and the Governor's initiatives for protecting and preserving Illinois' future visit: www.illinois.gov/EarthMonth. For more information on volunteer opportunities visit: Serve.Illinois.gov and www.dnr.illinois.gov/outreach/volunteeropportunities.