Richard M Daley. Image Credit: J. Scott Applewhite
Richard M. Daley, the former mayor of Chicago who implemented a raft of ambitious green building measures during his tenure in office, says the government must take the lead in efforts to create sustainable, ecologically sound cities.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Daley decried the current lack of an overarching framework to provide nationwide support to green construction and called for greater cooperation and coordination between federal and local governments in such undertakings.
“We don’t have a national plan for the environment. It’s basically the city and the private sector or not-for-profits,” he said.
“We should have a commission representing federal, state and local governments, and the business community.”
Making reference to his own experience as mayor of the largest city in the American midwest, Daley said the government must take the lead in multiple areas – first and foremost by serving as an exemplar in its own implementation of green measures.
“You have to have the city lead by example,” he said.
“We said we’re going to start being a green government. All public buildings are basically built with the US Green Building Council.”
Daley emphasized the need to raise awareness amongst a largely receptive public about the significance of green building measures.
“The public doesn’t always understand sustainability, but they want somebody to lead on it,” he said.
While the former Chicago mayor believes it is the responsibility of the state to assume a leading role in sustainability undertakings, he also stressed the core importance of cooperation between the public and private sectors and the need to have the later on board as partners.
“You need the business community to become your advisers and to work with them. They have to be part of the solution, the same with the not-for-profits and citizens,” he said.
“Government cannot do all of it alone.”
Daley was the longest-serving mayor of Chicago in the city’s history, holding office for a record-breaking six terms for a period of over two decades.
He oversaw the transformation of Chicago into one of America’s greenest cities toward the end of his term in office, with figures from the US Green Building Council indicating that the Windy City had more certified green buildings than any other major metropolis in the country by 2009.