The multi-million dollar Green Era Campus (GEC) initiative in Auburn Gresham is aiming for another milestone — interconnecting its renewable natural gas (RNG) with Peoples Gas for the project to have access to their distribution system.’
Crain’s Chicago Business reports that the total cost of the project interconnection is projected to be $1.7 million, with Peoples Gas aiming for the cost to be offset by ratepayers.
RNG is synthetic gas equivalent to natural gas, using organic waste that emits methane as energy.
The nine-acre GEC campus on Chicago’s South Side at 650 W. 83rd St., seeks to provide solutions that address complex issues of unemployment by creating more than 300 jobs, mostly for formerly incarcerated residents; food insecurity by growing a variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs in one of the most food-insecure neighborhoods in Chicago; and landfill overflow by diverting unconsumed processed foods, 40% of which is never consumed in the U.S., from landfills into renewable energy, says Crain’s.
Green Era Educational NFP spearheads the project, based on incubation from Growing Power Chicago.
Other campus initiatives a community education center, retail store and nursery—an urban farm and greenhouse operated by the nonprofit Urban Growers Collective.
“We’re recycling here. We’re creating some renewable energy. We’re creating nutrient rich soil to grow local food. With the educational campus we’re going to be doing workforce development and job training,” the business publication quoted Jason Feldman, a co-founder of Green Era, as saying.
Green Era plans to build the first two Midwest 1.7 million-gallon anaerobic food waste digesters.
Peoples Gas recently filed a petition asking the Illinois Commerce Commission to expedite the interconnection project before June 30.
Urban Growers co-founder Laurell Sims says the group have been working closely with the community to help them better understand the project and attending monthly meetings to educate residents.
“We worked very closely with the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation and with a couple of different high schools around here . . . to really just let people know how this project is different from a lot of corporations that just kind of come in and cause huge environmental disruption,” she said.
Both Simeon Career Academy and Leo High School helped finalize the design and budget for the Community Education Center.
Illinois helped to fund the project with $2 million. Always Growing, Auburn Gresham, received $10 million from the inaugural Chicago Prize in 2020 for their proposal that included the Green Era Campus, Crain’s reported.