Applying multi-disciplinary science to policies and practices for a healthy and sustainable world.

Greenleaf Communities’ goals for 2024 – 2026 are to advance a healthy and sustainable world, applying multi-disciplinary science to policy and practices to address climate change, environmental justice, soil health, and freshwater resources.  Staff, board members, and partners bring experience, expertise, and passion for action that yields tangible results for sustaining a healthy planet for healthy people. Please see a selection of goals and accomplishments.

The Climate is the overarching governor of earth resources that sustain humanity.  We advance resilience, adaptation, and mitigation solutions guided by board member Dr. Don Wuebbles who chaired the National Academy of Sciences climate framework and advises Earth Knowledge, an integrated planetary intelligence platform. Our climate goals are to:

  • Establish a U.S. national Price on Carbon and Global Compact to accelerate the clean energy transition.
  • Mitigate heat stress and climate impacts especially in underserved communities in northern Illinois by leveraging climate modeling and adaptation solutions to drive sustainable development.
  • Achieve common data standards for GHG emissions to influence societal measurement, reporting, and management.
  • Investigate and advance solutions to climate-influenced fire affecting Midwest air quality.

Track Record:

  • Informed Carbon Pricing Policy at multiple scales. Greenleaf led carbon pricing research and policy reports with Drs. Don Wuebbles, Roy Wehrle, and Francine van den Brandeler, to accelerate economic transitions away from fossil fuels. The recommendations are guided by three pillars: a domestic carbon tax; formation of a global Climate Club; and carbon surcharge transfer payments to developing countries. Our research and economic modeling were presented to domestic and global policymakers and organizations; helping to inform U.S. and international policy considerations under discussion.
  • Advanced climate adaptation measures in urban areas for environmental and energy justice. Greenleaf with partners investigated green infrastructure, climate resilience, clean energy, and sustainable transportation solutions domestically and internationally to inform the following regional initiatives which we continue to engage:
    • Community Project Lab led by the University of Illinois delivers tools and knowledge for climate resilience and water resource management.
    • Blacks in Green, a nonprofit organization in West Woodlawn, leads the Sustainable Square Mile and Environmental Justice Technical Assistance Center in EPA Region 5 to help disadvantaged communities and organizations achieve Environmental Justice.
    • Discovery Partners Institute (University of Illinois system) and the Clean Energy and Equitable Transportation Solutions Global Center (CLEETS) provide climate change, clean energy, and clean transportation research and share knowledge between the US and the UK.
  • Co-hosted the Energy Transition Forum in Chicago with international leadership from government, industry, and research centers to discuss challenges and solutions for a timely and responsible transition to a secure, low-carbon, affordable energy future.
The Energy Transition Forum in Chicago

Sustainable Land & Water Use includes nature-based solutions in urban and rural/agricultural areas which benefit the climate, human health, soil health, and water quality for all. We collaborate with industry, research centers, government agencies, and environmental organizations to share knowledge and promote best management practices and technologies. Water resources are stressed by overconsumption and climate change, requiring resource management, innovative technologies, and policies for change.  Coordinated action across jurisdictions that share water resource interests is needed plus research and education around innovative management solutions and technologies. Our land and water goals are to:

  • Scale sustainable/regenerative agriculture and forestry to sequester carbon, reduce nutrient/soil runoff, conserve water, increase crop yields and quality, and compensate farmers engaging in best practices.
  • Support sustainable urban development in the Midwest that promotes human health and well-being, especially in underserved communities.
  • Reduce flooding in the Midwest and improve water quality through urban land management utilizing intelligent gray and green infrastructure solutions and regenerative agricultural practices.
  • Investigate and advance western water policies that encourage switching from water-intensive crops to protect the Colorado River’s water supplies with board member Brian Richter.

Track Record:

Big Trout Bay, Lake Superior. Photo by NCC.
  • Led the Healthy Soils Healthy Waters event series in the U.S. on regenerative agriculture, promoting best practices and research to inform multi-disciplinary groups of practitioners, researchers, and other stakeholders.
  • Demonstrated the contributions of gypsum as an agricultural amendment to improve soil health and decrease phosphorus runoff (a major contributor to algal blooms), leading to an NRCS Conservation Practice Standard.
  • Advanced an integrated approach to water resources management in Illinois, calling on leadership to collaborate on a resilient, just, and economical regional solution.
  • Supported Nature Conservancy of Canada’s conservation of Trout Bay on Lake Superior to protect unique land and water resources and the species and natural communities they support.
  • Co-hosted a roundtable of water experts to guide an economic research initiative by Resources for the Future on urban infrastructure focused on the availability of safe, affordable water, and mitigation of flood risks through stormwater management.
  • Led outreach and hydrologic analysis to provide effective solutions to invasive species (Asian Carp) in the Chicago Area Waterways System in an initiative led by the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.

We work at the nexus of climate, land, energy, and water advancing truly sustainable solutions to protect the natural resources that sustain societies.  We respond to requests to address pressing needs that are on mission, applying best global policies and practices with our strong board members and partners.

Thank you for supporting Greenleaf with your time, insights, resources, and collaboration as we work together toward a healthy and sustainable world. We look forward to making more progress towards our goals in 2024.