Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition (CACC) has announced its 2021 Leadership Award winners, which are given annually to organizations and individuals that take actions to locally reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality.
This year’s awardees include: Rivian, Ozinga, Cook-Illinois Corporation, Trillium, and B20 Club. Dr. Elizabeth A. Kócs, director for Partnerships and Strategy at University of Illinois Chicago’s Energy Initiative, was recognized with a Community Leadership Award for her work in advancing emissions-reducing electric vehicle technologies.
“Rivian, Ozinga, Cook-Illinois Corporation, Trillium, B20 Club, and Dr. Kócs are exceptional examples for others to follow,” said Samantha Bingham, clean transportation program director for the Chicago Department of Transportation and co-coordinator of Chicago Area Clean Cities. “Their efforts reduce vehicle emissions that cause air pollution and climate change. They’re helping to make the air we breathe cleaner and healthier for all and the world a better place.”
The awards were presented at the coalition’s Annual Meeting and Holiday Reception held on Dec. 7 at Danada House in Wheaton. Award winners include:
EV Leadership Award: Rivian
Electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian received CACC’s EV Leadership Award. Rivian creates energy and transportation products and services with the goal of helping electrify the world. The company designs, develops, and manufactures category-defining electric vehicles and accessories and sells them directly to customers in the consumer and commercial markets. Rivian complements its vehicles with a full suite of proprietary, value-added services that address the entire lifecycle of the vehicle and deepen its customer relationships. The company began customer deliveries of its R1T truck in September. Rivian employs more than 3,000 workers at its plant in Normal, Illinois.
Clean Transportation Award: Cook-Illinois Corporation
Under President and Chief Operating Officer John Benish, Jr.’s leadership, Cook-Illinois Corporation was the first in Illinois to voluntarily switch an entire bus fleet to blends up to 20% biodiesel (B20). Benish led efforts to implement buses powered by a suite of alternative fuels and technologies, including new technology diesel engines, electricity (EV), propane, and 100% biodiesel (B100). He also created the Clean Air Bus, the first- ever clean-air mobile museum for children and led the creation of a mobile farmers market to combat food insecurity in the Chicago area. Benish is an inaugural member of the B20 Club of Illinois and a long-standing member of Chicago Area Clean Cities. Benish spearheaded efforts to provide sustainable transportation options to Chicago-area school districts to protect the health of students and benefit the environment.
Leadership in Public Service: B20 Club
A partnership between the Illinois Soybean Association checkoff program and the American Lung Association, the B20 Club recognizes a select group of Illinois-based organizations with strong commitments to run fleets on biodiesel blends of 20% or greater. These diverse Illinois-based commercial and government fleets rely on B20 biodiesel and higher biodiesel blends to fuel their vehicles. B20 Club members in Illinois include Ag-Land FS, Al Warren Oil Co, Inc., CityLink (Greater Peoria Mass Transit District), Cook-Illinois Corporation, City of Elmhurst, City of Moline, Village of Arlington Heights, Village of Carol Stream, Village of Oak Park, Chicago Park District, ComEd, Lake County Division of Transportation, Green Grease Environmental, Excel Oil Service, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Ozinga, G&D Integrated, SK Davison, and R&N Trucking.
Public-Private Partnership Award: Trillium
Trillium, the City of Naperville, along with Trillium and Groot Industries, opened Naperville’s first public compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station. Trillium built the CNG station with the help of a $300,000 Drive Clean Chicago grant secured by the city in 2016. The city’s refuse and recycling contractor, Groot Industries, agreed to a long-term gas purchase agreement with Trillium, making the project more viable for all parties involved.
The station, which is open 24-hours a day, features multiple CNG dispensers for light- and heavy-duty fueling. In addition to use by city vehicles, refuse trucks from Groot and other CNG fleets operating in and around Naperville, the station is also available to the public. Naperville’s vehicle fleet currently includes vehicles that run on CNG. Over three years, Groot is transitioning more than 20 of its 75 contractor vehicles from diesel fuel to CNG, with the goal of 30% of its fleet running on CNG by next year.
Above and Beyond Award: Ozinga Energy
Ozinga Bros. is a fourth-generation, family-owned company providing ready mix concrete, building materials, logistics and alternative fuel solutions since 1928. Ozinga has more than 200 ready-mix concrete mixers running on renewable natural gas and another 600 on 20% biodiesel (B20) in the Chicagoland area. Over the last decade, Ozinga Energy, a subsidiary of Ozinga Bros., has successfully served many fleets in the greater Chicago area by providing compressed natural gas (CNG) as a clean alternative to gasoline and diesel fuels. This has helped a variety of fleets reduce emissions in vehicles ranging from Class 8 tractor trailers to small passenger cars. Many are local delivery trucks, taxis, national carriers, and even local college student’s cars.
Community Leadership Award: Dr. Elizabeth A. Kócs
Dr. Elizabeth A. Kócs, director for partnerships and strategy at UIC Energy Initiative, led the 2020 UIC Beneficial Electrification Workshops and published the report “Guiding Principles for Beneficial Electrification of Transportation: A Framework for Transportation Electrification in Illinois” in February 2021, which addresses electric vehicle adoption and deployment in Illinois and supports advances in transportation electrification for the State of Illinois.
Dr. Kócs leads energy and sustainability programs and initiatives on transportation, storage, and smart cities through her work at UIC Energy Initiative including leading student consulting groups each spring on community and university-related sustainable mobility projects.
2021 Clean Fuels Champion
The CACC also recognized clean-vehicle advocate Marcy Rood, an environmental transportation analyst with Argonne National Laboratory, with its most prestigious award as its annual Clean Fuels Champion.