Illinois Alliance for Clean Transportation (IACT) Recognizes Sustainable Transportation Leaders

Leaders recognized for clean fuels fleets, infrastructure, education, and community engagement.

CHICAGO, Dec. 7, 2023 – The Illinois Alliance for Clean Transportation (IACT), formerly known as Chicago Area Clean Cities, announced its 2023 Sustainable Transportation Award winners. The awards are given annually to organizations and individuals who impact the reduction of vehicle emissions that improve air quality.

This year’s organizations awarded are WasteNot Compost, Millennium Garages, and the Village of Arlington Heights. Individuals awarded are Edith Makra, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, Chris Lyon, NTEA-Work Truck Association, John Caupert, Executive Director of the National Corn Ethanol Research Center, and C. John Schwab who received the Lifetime Appreciation Award for his decades of above and beyond dedication, leadership, and contribution to IACT’s mission.

“Each of the awardees have made a significant impact on sustainable transportation in Illinois,” said Samantha Bingham, co-coordinator, Illinois Alliance for Clean Transportation (IACT). “Their efforts reduce transportation emissions which are the largest contributor to air pollution and greenhouse gas.”

The awards were presented at the alliance’s Annual Meeting and Holiday Reception held December 6 at Danada House in Wheaton.

WasteNot Compost, Clean Fuels Champion Award

The Illinois Alliance for Clean Transportation proudly honors WasteNot Compost as a Clean Fuels Champion for its exemplary commitment to environmental sustainability. From its origins as a bike-powered compost collection service in 2015, WasteNot Compost has evolved into the nation’s leading advocate for clean fuels in waste management.  Click to read full story.

Civic Infrastructure Collaborative / Millennium Garages, Infrastructure Innovation Award

The Illinois Alliance for Clean Transportation applauds Millennium Garages for its unwavering commitment to innovation in infrastructure, awarding the underground parking complex the prestigious Infrastructure Innovation Award. Operating as a public-private partnership with the City of Chicago, Millennium Garages has emerged as a regional and national leader in energy efficiency, electric vehicle (EV) charging, and multi-modal mobility.

Spanning 12 square city blocks adjacent to Chicago’s central business district, Millennium Garages serves as a pivotal hub for residents, commuters, visitors, and businesses alike. Since the enactment of Illinois’ Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), Millennium Garages has prioritized energy efficiency, earning recognition as Illinois’ Largest Public EV Charging Hub. Boasting 100 level 2 charging ports, it stands as the Midwest’s premier public EV charging facility.

“We are thrilled to honor Millennium Garages for its transformative contributions to sustainable urban mobility,” says Samantha Bingham, co-coordinator for the Illinois Alliance for Clean Transportation. “Their commitment to electric vehicle infrastructure aligns seamlessly with our collective goals for a cleaner, greener future.”

In collaboration with nonprofit Civic Infrastructure Collaborative and ComEd, Millennium Garages is pioneering replicable and scalable models for EV infrastructure planning. The parking complex actively explores grid-connected batteries, demand response, and other initiatives to enhance electric grid reliability. Beginning Q4 2023, 25% of Millennium Garages’ electricity will be sourced from certified renewable wind energy, ensuring that EV charging is powered by clean energy.

Millennium Garages engages the community through awareness campaigns, leveraging email newsletters, green EV charging lighting, and EV charging hub tours/events. The Millennium Gateway Innovation Lab, launched in 2020, serves as a cross-sector consortium exploring new uses for urban parking facilities through technology and innovation.

The EV Charging Testbed, a joint effort with Civic Infrastructure Collaborative, SP+, and Arrive, has proven successful, resulting in the funding of an expansion project to increase EV charging stations to 100+. The outcome, as reflected in 2023 metrics, includes 21,500 charging sessions, 410 MwH of energy dispensed, and a significant environmental impact, avoiding 260 metric tons of CO2 and enabling 1.3 million EV miles traveled.

Village of Arlington Heights, Tom Thompson Leadership in Public Service Award

The Village of Arlington Heights proudly earned the Tom Thompson Leadership in Public Service Award in recognition of its outstanding commitment to environmental sustainability. With a visionary approach, the Village has implemented a series of initiatives aimed at reducing harmful emissions and fostering a cleaner, greener community.

Since 2007, their Public Works Department has been at the forefront of environmental efforts, utilizing biodiesel fuel to significantly decrease soot, hydrocarbon, and carbon monoxide emission levels. A groundbreaking Diesel Retrofit project in the same year equipped ten Public Works trucks with diesel particulate exhaust filters, funded by a $17,819 grant from the Clean Air Counts campaign, addressing over 20% of the nation’s smog-inducing nitrogen oxide emissions.

The Village’s commitment to innovation extends to its vehicle fleet, with twenty-five hybrid vehicles acquired since 2007, including Ford Police Interceptor Utility Hybrids for the Police Department’s patrol fleet. These hybrids have yielded a 60% increase in fuel economy, averaging close to 16 MPG compared to the non-hybrid average of below 10 MPG.

In 2023, the Village added seven electric vehicles to its fleet, distributed among the Building & Life Safety Department, Health and Human Services, and Public Works. This strategic move aligns with the Village’s fiscal and environmentally responsible initiatives, saving approximately 4.6 tons of carbon exhaust per replaced gas-powered vehicle and yielding substantial operating cost savings.

The Village of Arlington Heights has been a pioneer in environmental recognition, earning a place among the Top 25 Green Fleets by Heavy Duty Trucking Magazine in 2019. Notable investments include an Advance CS7000 LPG-Hybrid sweeper-scrubber for cleaning parking garages, demonstrating operational versatility with lower CO2 emissions and reduced operational costs.

Embracing the Drive Clean Chicago incentive program, the Public Works Department utilized incentives to purchase a hybrid aerial truck from Altec Industries, furthering the Village’s commitment to cleaner vehicles. The Altec JEMS (Jobsite Energy Management System) exemplifies innovation, eliminating idle time, reducing fuel consumption, lessening noise pollution, and decreasing the carbon footprint.

Edith Makra, Community Leadership Award

The Illinois Alliance for Clean Transportation proudly recognizes Edith Makra with the Community Leadership Award, celebrating her decade-long dedication to advancing sustainable practices in municipal fleets and promoting alternative fuels.

Edith Makra has made a critical impact advocating for smart local and state policies that support alternative fuels. Since 2018, she has been a driving force behind the EV Readiness Program, funded by ComEd and developed by the Mayors Caucus, a program assisting municipalities in embracing best practices for electric vehicle (EV) integration. Under Edith’s leadership, the program covers zoning, planning, permitting, community and utility collaboration, safety, first responder training, and fleet electrification planning.

Edith also played a pivotal role in crafting Chicagoland’s regional Climate Action Plan, outlining mitigation and resilience strategies with a focus on transportation electrification. The program’s design involved extensive listening sessions and collaboration with an EV Readiness Advisory Council, highlighting Edith’s commitment to inclusive decision-making.

The EV Readiness Team (EVRT successfully delivered the program to 16 communities in the first cohort, with a second cohort of 15 communities initiated in August 2023. The program received overwhelming interest, with 40 communities expressing interest in the Chicagoland region.

Edith Makra’s leadership extends beyond the EV Readiness Program and the Climate Action Plan. She developed the Greenest Region Compact, a tool for defining sustainability plans for jurisdictions. Her communication skills and motivational prowess have proven invaluable during this critical transition to cleaner fuels and energy.

Positive feedback from the first cohort underscores the program’s success, with at least 11 communities poised to receive a completion designation. Edith Makra’s tireless commitment to sustainability is evident in her multifaceted contributions to municipalities, making her a deserving recipient of the Community Leadership Award.

Christopher Lyon, Industry Partnership Award

We proudly presented the Industry Partnership Award to Chris Lyon, acknowledging his exceptional contributions to the success of our Naperville and Edwardsville Conferences. Recognizing the challenges faced by an emcee, Chris demonstrated unwavering professionalism, diligence, and a commitment to excellence in both conferences.

“Chris not only met the demands of his role but exceeded expectations,” says John Walton, Chairman of the Illinois Alliance for Clean Transportation. His meticulous preparation, engaging presentation style, and ability to infuse captivating information into the program transformed the events into memorable experiences. Chris’s welcoming demeanor and inclusive approach made all speakers feel valued and integral to the success of the conferences.

Beyond his exceptional work as an emcee, Chris Lyon played a pivotal role in fostering collaboration and growth in the Clean Cities program’s partnership with NTEA. His leadership in coordinating efforts between coalitions, the US Department of Energy (USDOE), and NTEA significantly enhanced the visibility of the program at the annual Work Truck Show. In 2019, Chris Lyon played a key role in realizing IACT’s vision of facilitating tours of the Work Truck Show’s expo hall.

Continuing to demonstrate his commitment to partnership, Chris Lyon actively supports the annual Clean Cities Day at the Work Truck Show, scheduled for March 7, 2024. This ongoing collaboration underscores Chris’s dedication to advancing clean transportation initiatives and promoting sustainable practices within the industry.

The Illinois Alliance for Clean Transportation commends Chris Lyon for his outstanding contributions, leadership, and commitment to advancing the goals of the Clean Cities program.

C. John Schwab, Lifetime Achievement Award

In recognition of three decades of unwavering commitment to advancing clean transportation, the Illinois Alliance for Clean Transportation proudly presents the prestigious Lifetime Appreciation Award to C. John Schwab. A distinguished member of the coalition, John’s impact extends far beyond his illustrious career at DFS, where he spearheaded the conversion of numerous vehicles to run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). He played a pivotal role in establishing multiple CNG stations in the Chicago area and beyond.

While leading a CNG and Propane conversion, John’s dedication to fuel neutrality set a commendable standard within our coalition. His ethos is grounded in making a difference rather than serving personal interests, emphasizing that a reduction in petroleum benefits us all.

John’s legendary status within the coalition is marked by his steadfast support and involvement. He consistently hosts coalition events at his facility, educates elected officials in Springfield, and actively participates in EV Ride and Drives for the public. Most notably, during the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic, John took the initiative to boost our annual report data gathering efforts, demonstrating his resilience and proactive approach.

Recognizing John’s invaluable contributions, coalition Chair John Walton proudly states, “It is my pleasure to present my friend, colleague, and fellow board member John Schwab with this Lifetime Appreciation Award.” Beyond his professional achievements, John’s positive personality, humor, and ability to infuse joy into the coalition’s endeavors distinguish him as a true asset. As we celebrate John’s longevity, integrity, and unwavering commitment, we honor him for making a lasting impact on clean transportation.

John Caupert, Premier Partnership Award

IACT also recognized John Caupert with the Premiere Partnership Award for his leadership in facilitating the Illinois Alliance for Clean Transportation’s relationship with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

John played a pivotal and instrumental role in the decision-making process that propelled the Green Drives Edwardsville event in August of 2023.  The event garnered recognition at the DOE Clean Cities 30th Anniversary meeting, where it was lauded as a successful project exemplifying our commitment to advancing programs across the state. As a testament to our achievements, the Illinois Alliance for Clean Transportation (IACT) was honored with an annual award for our outstanding efforts.

This recognition underscores the impact of John’s decisive role in steering the course of our Event, resulting in a noteworthy achievement that resonates with the mission of Clean Cities initiatives. The first annual Green Drives South not only symbolizes our commitment to sustainable practices but also stands as a successful model for similar programs across the state.

About IACT

IACT, formerly known as Chicago Area Clean Cities, is one of more than 75 coalitions across the country affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, which brings together stakeholders to increase the use of alternative fuel and advanced-vehicle technologies, reduce idling, and improve fuel efficiency and air quality. The alliance concentrates its efforts on educating businesses and municipalities throughout Illinois but also helps to advocate for clean transportation nationwide. To become involved, visit

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