State tops the nation as most sustainable location for site selection
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois tops the nation in Site Selection magazine’s annual ranking of the top locations for sustainable development, released today. The state moves up from the third spot in the 2021 report, which combines standard green metrics such as LEED-certified buildings, renewable energy use and green building incentives with measures such as the areas’ corporate social responsibility profiles in order to identify the best locations in the world for sustainable development. Illinois has bested California, Michigan, New York and Minnesota for the top spot in 2021.
“Illinois tops the charts in sustainability thanks to forward-looking policies, a long history of green development, and the timely investments my administration is making to boost economic opportunity and promote healthier environments for decades to come,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Our strategic push to expand our burgeoning electric vehicle industry, supporting manufacturers like Lion Electric and Rivian, is an example of the many sustainable and renewable energy projects around our state. Every day we see more companies choosing Illinois to scale environmentally beneficial products that create good, 21st century jobs. The time is now to invest in an equity-centric clean energy future, which is why I am proactively supporting the resources, infrastructure and skilled workforce training needed to keep Illinois communities and companies at the forefront of this revolution.”
“Illinois scored particularly well in our index where LEED-certified and Energy Star buildings were concerned, as well as in per-capita calculations of renewable energy deployment and facility investments from cleantech industries,” said Adam Bruns, the managing editor of Site Selection who first conceived of the rankings in 2010. “Projects like the recent EV manufacturing investments and the unique Green Era Farming Campus on the South Side of Chicago will only strengthen the state’s sustainability profile.”
Illinois continues to be recognized for its advancements in clean energy adoption, ranking fifth in the U.S. for wind energy generation and recent expansions in electric vehicle manufacturing. The EV industry in Illinois is projected to increase by 83% by 2024, when an estimated 9,500 workers will be employed throughout the state according to a recent study by Advanced Energy Economy.
Commitments from leading companies include Rivian, which is producing its electric SUVs and trucks in Normal, Illinois adding 1,900 jobs and Canadian based Lion Electric, which is investing $70M in its first ever U.S. production center in Joliet and adding 745 jobs to produce 20,000 electric buses and trucks annually.
“While the State of Illinois has always been a leader in sustainability, under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, we are taking significant steps to reduce our collective carbon footprint and to expand innovative and clean technologies that will simultaneously boost green jobs and investment for our communities,” said Sylvia Garcia, acting director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. “With Illinois poised for major future growth, we are committed to making investments in workforce development and other resources that put Illinois at the cutting edge of clean energy development and give companies confidence needed to invest for long-term growth here in our state.”
To advance Illinois’ goals to become a clean energy economy by 2050 and put one million EVs on the roads by 2030, the Pritzker administration is investing in workforce training to help companies scale quickly and meet demand for talent. This includes a recent $15 million investment to increase specialized training programs, such as those planned for Heartland Community College focused on electric vehicles and energy storage, to further prepare Illinoisans for the projected industry growth.
“We’re pleased to see Illinois recognized as the number one destination in the country for sustainable development,” said Alya Adamany Woods, Acting CEO & COO of Intersect Illinois. “We’ve seen increased interest from companies choosing Illinois because of its commitment to sustainability and its thriving ecosystem of organizations that are committed to a clean energy future.”
The administration has also prioritized investments in sustainable infrastructure, with Rebuild Illinois capital funding devoted to creation of additional charging stations, as well as community driven projects like the Green Era Urban Farming Campus in Auburn Gresham.
Illinois ranked #3 in the U.S. for LEED-certified building in 2020. Site Selection’s rankings comprise indices that blend standard green metrics such as LEED-certified buildings, renewable energy use and green building incentives with inputs such as the areas’ corporate social responsibility profiles, brownfield redevelopment, corporate facility investments in sectors with green connections, and commercial real estate environmental, social and governance (ESG) data.