Landmark skyscrapers, old and new, line the Chicago River. (Chronicle photograph by Lawrence Biemiller)
Chicago — The city official charged with making Chicago the nation’s most sustainable city says he got interested in sustainability as a student at Oberlin College, where he helped plan a high-profile environmental-studies center that opened in 2000.
The official, Sadhu Johnston, is commissioner of the city’s Department of Environment. He delivered the closing address at this week’s meeting of the Society for College and University Planning.
Among other things, Mr. Johnston’s department has encouraged sustainable construction, promoted solar energy, given away half a million energy-efficient light bulbs, made storm-water management a high priority, and created an “environmental pledge” in which residents promise to turn off the water while brushing their teeth, take reusable bags to the grocery store, and care for trees. The city’s mayor, Richard M. Daley, is a strong proponent of sustainability.
Mr. Johnston told those attending the SCUP meeting that he had honed his interest in the environment while working with David W. Orr, an environmental-studies professor who pressed Oberlin to construct an environmental-studies building designed to generate electricity and recycle waste water. Mr. Johnston also ran the college’s recycling center as his campus job.