Chicago has taken a stand in protecting the environment through its steadfast commitment to green, sustainable policies and practices. As a worldwide leader in innovative environmental initiatives, Chicago has integrated sustainability into its local government, businesses and other institutions around the city.

To learn more about Chicago's comprehensive sustainability plans and updates, read the 2015 Sustainable Chicago Action Agenda.


Chicago Skyline

Flanked by Lake Michigan to the east and the Chicago River running through the heart of the city, Chicago maintains its valuable water resources. Green infrastructure is being built throughout the city, creating permeable alleys to hold water that normally drains directly into the sewer system. Stormwater runoff is also being reduced through the design of rain gardens, green roofs, drainage swales and more.

Visit the City of Chicago site to learn more about these concepts and other water preservation methods, as well as more resources on how you can preserve the lakeshore and ensure clean drinking water and beaches.


Lincoln Park -Spring

Believe it or not, Chicago is home to a number of vibrant urban forests, prairies and wetlands. The city prioritizes the protection of these natural areas through continuous restoration, outreach and research efforts. Conservation of natural resources creates jobs, attracts tourism and improves the quality of citizens' lives. Be sure to visit the City of Chicago site for additional air and natural resources information, including those below.



O'Hare International Airport

Chicago saves money, conserves resources and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the efficiency of buildings and transportation. Clean, renewable energy sources improve air quality and invests in forward-thinking industries of the future. Chicago has a number of energy efficient and renewable energy strategies, such as the Chicago Climate Action Plan and Smart Grid Legislation.

  • Chicago Climate Action Plan Learn about Chicago's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by the year 2020
  • Smart Grid Legislation Find out how recent legislation will build Smart Grid technologies and modernize Chicago's electric system
  • Solar Grant View Chicago's recently awarded grant to reduce the barriers and costs associated with solar energy


City Hall green roof

Buildings are the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in Chicago. To combat this, Chicago has become a world leader in green rooftops, as well as a host of other structures designed to be more efficient and sustainable. Chicago has 300-plus green rooftops—more than any other U.S. city—covering 5.5 million square feet. They can be found on top of buildings including City Hall, Target, Apple store and even some McDonald's restaurants.

Ten museums, including The Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium, have taken the lead in adopting environmentally friendly practices, from green business operations to green exhibits. For more information about Chicago's eco-friendly museums and attractions. 

Through its investments in strategic designs meant to conserve resources and energy, Chicago is poised to strengthen its environmental and economic future.


Your show can make a difference. Here's how a few organizations have made social consciousness a cornerstone of their meetings:

  • Donate unused items: Following its show, True Value donated unused items and materials to Special Children's Charities, the Special Olympus of Chicago and the Chicago Park District
  • Donate food: The National Restaurant Association donated more than 37,000 meals after its 2011 conference to the Greater Chicago Food Depository
  • Donate products: In 2012, Ace Hardware donated 11 truckloads of products from their exhibit booths—tools, cleaning supplies, paint and lawn and garden products—to ReStore Elgin, which sells new and used building materials to benefit Habitat for Humanity


Photos Courtesy of: Chicago Skyline by Cesar Russ; Lincoln Park by Adam Alexander; O'Hare International Airport by N i c o l a via flickr (CC BY 2.0); City Hall Green Rooftop by City of Chicago