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College Sustainability at City Colleges of Chicago

September 22, 2018

city colleges energy efficiency and sustainability


This week in the Verde Podcast, our sustainability best practices series in season 2, we sit down with an old friend, John Brophy.  

John is the sustainability manager for the City Colleges of Chicago, as well as the environmental tech lead for the school.


John makes energy efficiency and sustainability a priority at the school system, which include:

  • Richard J. Daley College
  • Kennedy-King College
  • Malcolm X College
  • Olive-Harvey College
  • Harry S Truman College
  • Harold Washington College
  • Wilbur Wright College

We were excited to be the first to share a big initiative that John has been working on for years, the expansion of the UPass (free CTA pass for college students) to include part time students. Since a higher percentage of community college students are part time, this led to a lower percentage of students in the City College system being included.

John shares a bit about how the Center for Neighborhood Technology served as leadership around the local environmental movement in the last several decades.  Both John and Jamie served in different roles at the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Jamie was an intern at the I-GO car sharing service, and John had a variety of roles over several years at both I-GO and CNT.

John talks about key stakeholders that are involved in sustainability initiatives at the college, including local alderman, state representatives, students, as well as employees.  John shares some of the groups that get passionate about sustainability, like groups of students and teachers.

The past few years have been tough financially for the City Colleges of Chicago, based on the financial issues in the state and budgetary impasse in 2016 and 2017.  However, John feels that the school has come out of this time stronger, and that the future is bright for their initiatives around sustainability. 

"I like to think of sustainability initiatives as something that kills a few birds with one stone...and that is why they are so easy to sell".

We also discuss how solar power will continue to grow in impact in Illinois in 2018 and 2019.  Listen in to hear more.  

Posted by Jamie Johnson

While serving as a firefighter on the north shore of Chicago, Jamie saw how much energy was wasted by leaving lights on overnight in the firehouse. He ran calculations and aspired to find a way to both save enegy and reduce costs. Shortly thereafter, Verde was born.


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