Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ ‘B Corp’ Mightybytes grades the greenness of your website ]]> Lead story image

A 15-year veteran of Chicago’s tech community, web-design and video-production house Mightybytes, Inc., is designing technology to help businesses go green — a grading process to tell companies whether they are operating a “sustainable” website. The “sustainable website grader,” set for launch on Earth Day, April 22, will crawl a website in search of energy hogs such as the site’s hosting services; download speed (the faster the download, the fewer resources used) and design features such as streamlined shopping-cart checkouts, to avoid wasted search clicks and time. The crawler will grade each site with a score from one to 100. … ]]> Sun, 17 Mar 2013 18:09:09 -0600 <![CDATA[ Innovator: Harness city’s wind ]]> Lead story image

Energy-renewal innovator Beth Thomas is passionate about the possibilities of expanding “green” energy in urban environments, and she sees Chicago as a gold mine. ]]> Wed, 06 Jun 2012 08:02:43 -0600 <![CDATA[ Channahon eyed for wind energy station ]]>

CHANNAHON — Wind energy harvested from western states will be routed through Morris and Channahon substations and converter stations under plans by Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners. A representative of the firm explained the concept to the Channahon Village Board this week. Electricity in the Rock Island Clean Line would begin in wind farms in South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa, which are four of the windiest states in the country, and be carried to a newly constructed converter station in western Channahon. The firm is eyeing an 85-acre site off Bungalow Road. The electricity would run to Collins Station … ]]> Tue, 12 Jun 2012 08:07:31 -0600 <![CDATA[ Not heating the neighborhood ]]> Lead story image

Energy efficiency is out-performing glacially slow bank lending and home buying to provide jobs and more livable rental housing in South and West Side neighborhoods, as Chicago’s Energy Savers program is proving. The Chicago-based program is enabling landlords to invest in building upgrades that cut energy bills an average of 30 percent a year. The Energy Savers program focuses on the most cost-effective improvements such as insulation, air sealing and heating-system upgrades. But some owners are leveraging the latest technologies to do more. Eight buildings in the West Woodlawn and South Chicago neighborhoods feature solar-thermal panels, high-efficiency water heaters and … ]]> Tue, 22 May 2012 08:03:29 -0600 <![CDATA[ App tracks energy savings ]]> Lead story image

Want to brag about how you’re pinching pennies by reducing your ComEd bill? There’s an app for that. The app, downloadable for free through Facebook at, lets people nationwide, including ComEd customers, import their energy use data, see how their energy use compares with similar homes, invite friends to compare their energy use and share tips on reducing their power bills. The app is sponsored by Facebook, energy-information software company Opower, the National Resources Defense Council and 16 utilities nationwide, including ComEd. Sandra Guy … ]]> Sat, 05 May 2012 08:18:12 -0600 <![CDATA[ West moving ahead on geothermal system at Smith Elementary ]]>

AURORA — Plans are moving forward on a proposal to create a geothermal heating and cooling system for Smith Elementary School. The West Aurora School Board this week discussed hiring a firm to install the system for $1.3 million. Smith was chosen as the location because the district had grant money that fit the project, and could only be used at that school, said Pete Kerl, assistant superintendent for operations. The system allows the flexibility of being able to both heat and cool the building, Kerl said. “It’s a great green option for us,” said Superintendent James Rydland. While initially … ]]> Sun, 06 May 2012 08:12:27 -0600 <![CDATA[ Restaurants following NCC’s lead in food scrap composting ]]> Lead story image

Those last couple of cold fries or that bit of bread crust you leave on your plate the next time you patronize a downtown Naperville restaurant might be worth something. Food composting, the next green frontier, depends on those scraps. Several restaurants in the retail core have begun chewing on the idea of separating the decay-prone parts of their trash — coffee grounds, wooden shipping crates, chicken bones, egg shells, overripe fruit, paper napkins and yes, uneaten salads and sides — and pooling them in a centralized container to be carted off for composting. The approach would lighten the load … ]]> Wed, 04 Apr 2012 12:43:00 -0600 <![CDATA[ Chief hopes flex-fuel vehicles will help earn $200,000 alternative fuel grant ]]>

CROWN POINT — Police Chief Pete Land wants to be able to take advantage of a potentially almost $200,000 in free E-85 fuel so this year’s vehicle purchases are all flex-fuel. Land received approval Wednesday from the Board of Public Works and Safety to move ahead with the purchase of four new vehicles for the department including one SUV for a total cost of $99,778 not including trade-ins. The chief wants to tap $199,500 in potential CMAQ Alternative Fuel grant funding that may be available to the department when new grant cycle begins in August. “If we get the grant … ]]> Mon, 02 Apr 2012 08:58:01 -0600 <![CDATA[ Powers Energy garbage-to-ethanol plant takes a few steps forward ]]> Lead story image

LOWELL — Plans for the proposed $330 million Powers Energy trash-to-ethanol plant in Schneider appear to be gaining some momentum. Powers Energy and the landowner are expected to reach a deal on a purchase agreement in about a week. Powers is also in negotiations with a major oil company that has an interest in purchasing all the ethanol produced at the site, as well as becoming an equity partner in the project, a project representative said. Members of the Council of Northwestern Indiana Towns and Smaller Cities were updated on progress with the project Thursday at the Lowell Town Hall … ]]> Tue, 01 May 2012 08:22:42 -0600 <![CDATA[ Porter County approves first solar facility ]]>

VALPARAISO — Portage Township is getting the county’s first solar farm. The Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved the plan Wednesday for Portage Solar LLC, which calls for solar panels on about 11 acres at the southwest corner of Robbins Road and North County Road 450W, just outside Portage city limits. Energy collected at the site would be sold to Northern Indiana Public Service Co. The site will include a buffer of trees, and existing hedgerows on Robbins Road and on the west part of the property will remain, said county planning and zoning administrator Raymond Joseph. The … ]]> Tue, 24 Apr 2012 08:16:18 -0600 <![CDATA[ Phillips Chevy opens charging station ]]> Lead story image

Phillips Chevrolet in Frankfort has added an electric vehicle charging station that is free and open to the public. ]]> Sun, 15 Apr 2012 08:06:25 -0600 <![CDATA[ Hobart council expedites solar farm project ]]>

HOBART — Emergency action taken by the City Council on Wednesday night will allow a Minnesota company to have a public hearing on its solar farm proposal at the March 1 Board of Zoning Appeals meeting. The council declared an emergency and approved an ordinance on renewable energy on second reading, as well as first reading. The ordinance covers wind turbines and solar panels. City planner A.J. Bytnar said the council’s action allows Hobart Solar LLC to move forward with its request to have a public hearing on its proposal to build 4,576 solar panels on 10 acres of a … ]]> Sat, 17 Mar 2012 10:22:05 -0600 <![CDATA[ Company seeks to bring solar panel farms to Northwest Indiana ]]> Lead story image

A Minnesota-based company sees a golden opportunity for solar farming in Northwest Indiana, courtesy of the sun and NIPSCO initiatives. Ecos Renewable Energy has proposals out for solar panel farms in Hobart, Merrillville and Portage Township. The plans are similar in nature, and if approved, would allow for solar energy to be sold to Northern Indiana Public Service Company. NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer said customers can receive up to 26 cents per kilowatt hour. For the most part, outside of public meetings, Ecos officials have remained tight-lipped about whether they have other solar farms in mind in this area or … ]]> Wed, 14 Mar 2012 08:07:17 -0600 <![CDATA[ Frankfort 'Curiosity' shop feeds creativity and inspires ]]> Lead story image

FRANKFORT — Three years ago, when Jan Sabey opened Evilena’s Red Dresser, an upscale furniture and consignment store in Frankfort, she did so in the spirit of her 94-year-old aunt, the ultimate example of repurposing and recycling. Sabey recently launched a new product line, Cathrine’s Curiosities, an inspirational trash-to-treasures home-decor collection by two Monee residents, Cathrine Schipman and Tracy DeGraaf,. The line is specially designed to feed the soul and nurture creativity. The name Cathrine’s Curiosities is reminiscent of Charles Dickens’ novel “The Curiosity Shop.” “It’s also a way of sharing our faith,” Sabey said. “Art is like therapy. I … ]]> Wed, 09 May 2012 10:10:57 -0600 <![CDATA[ Hobart planners favor solar-power proposal ]]>

HOBART — A Minnesota company is moving forward in its quest to operate two solar electric generating facilities in Lake County. The Hobart Plan Commission on Thursday voted to give Hobart Solar LLC a favorable recommendation to the Board of Zoning Appeals to build 4,576 solar panels on about 10 acres of a 50-acre parcel on 49th Avenue. The commission determined the site meets the general criteria of the city’s comprehensive plan. “I find this use very, very appropriate. I don’t know what else could, or would, be put there,” Plan Commission chairman and Councilman John Brezik, D-5th, said. While … ]]> Sun, 04 Mar 2012 08:13:33 -0600 <![CDATA[ W. Dundee to switch some traffic lights to LEDs ]]>

WEST DUNDEE — In an effort to go more green, the village will partner with the Illinois Department of Transportation to replace the traffic signals on Routes 31 and 72 from incandescent bulbs to LEDs. IDOT officials said the LED lights will lower energy consumption, reduce maintenance and enhance visibility. West Dundee Village Manager Joe Cavallaro told village board members that battery backup also is included in the program, which will allow traffic signals to operate during temporary short-term power outages. State funds will cover 90 percent of the program’s cost, with the remaining 10 percent to be split based … ]]> Mon, 27 Feb 2012 08:32:43 -0600