The Pioneer Prairie Project

Chicago aspires to be the greenest city in America, but oddly enough in a city that still sees itself as a smokestack and lunch bucket town, the city has generally limited itself to the consumer end of the green revolution. It’s pretty easy to find a retail outlet that sells kitchen countertops made out of recycled Starbucks coffee cups and ground up Pontiac Aztecs, but try to find a job in a green technology company—forget it. Selling off our banks before they turned rancid counts as prescient economic planning in these parts.

Still, here and there people are trying. An old-line utility company is teaming up with a familiar nonprofit and a local junior college to build 11 affordable green houses in suburban West Chicago. DuPage Habitat for Humanity and ComEd are the main sponsors of the Pioneer Prairie Project, with students from the Sustainable Design Initiative class at the College of DuPage providing the green ideas. Prospective owners provide 250 hours of sweat equity. Interested homeowners should attend an application session to be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 28 at the DuPage County Building in Wheaton. More information is available here.

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