Announcing the 2021 Emerald Award Winners

by Illinois Green Alliance

Illinois Green Alliance announced the recipients of this year’s Emerald Awards, dubbed the 2021 Path to Zero Trailblazers, for their ongoing efforts to mainstream net zero buildings in Illinois.

The Illinois Green Alliance Emerald Awards were launched in 2008 to celebrate outstanding green building achievements in Illinois by providing recognition to organizations, people, buildings, and technologies. This year, one individual and one organization are being honored for their continued commitment and advocacy in advancing high performance, cutting-edge existing and new construction buildings.

These awards reflect Illinois Green Alliance’s five-year strategic plan centered on creating healthy buildings and spaces to live and work in through best practices for energy efficiency and zero carbon design.

“We are thrilled to bring attention to those that are laying the foundation for a net zero building revolution in Illinois,” said Brian Imus, Executive Director of Illinois Green. “Their commitment and innovation is what we need to make all buildings in Illinois built to the standards we know reduce carbon pollution while improving everyone’s health, comfort and well-being.”

The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, one of this year’s honorees, was founded in 1999 with a mission to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy and preservation of natural areas. To date, the foundation has contributed over $10 million through their Net Zero Energy Building Program and over $140 million to support energy efficiency. Currently there are 9 net zero projects in development that are being directly supported by the Foundation. The Foundation’s stringent guidelines for sustainable buildings catalyzed net zero projects in Illinois. By leveraging their power in incentivizing the highest performance buildings, they have laid the foundation for a net zero building landscape in the state.

Also to be recognized at this year’s awards ceremony is Tom Bassett-Dilley. As an architect, he has made meaningful contributions professionally and personally to advance high performance building design and best practices. His decades-long passion for making a positive impact on the environment is reflected in his work as an architect, specializing in Passive House technology and zero energy buildings. His firm has worked on more than a dozen projects that have been designed to net zero standards. His commitment to address climate change through building design extends beyond his professional work, volunteering to share his experience on committees and in educational events, serving as a founding member and past President of the Phius Alliance Chicago Chapter, and most recently developing a new online tool for homeowners to consider decarbonization actions they can take in their own home. 

This year, the Emerald Award Ceremony will serve as the launch of Illinois Green Alliance’s Net Zero Honor Roll and Watch List, a new initiative to raise awareness to the buildings achieving the highest level of green building certifications around net zero energy, carbon, water, and waste. Two buildings will premiere on this list—Adlai Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL and Method’s Manufacturing Facility on the South Side of Chicago.

“All communities deserve the benefits of the sustainable building technology that we know have a real impact on people’s lives,” said Kathia Benitez, Board Chair of the Illinois Green Alliance. “Net zero buildings are not only a  top solution to reducing carbon in the built environment but they are also healthier, safer, and more resilient.”