At the heart of the Green Era Campus is the Midwest’s first self-sustainable anaerobic digester, which will divert millions of pounds of food waste from landfills to produce clean energy and nutrient-rich compost. The result? A sustainable renewable energy source, new green jobs, expanded local food production, and community vitality.
Anaerobic digestion is a safe and proven technology widely used to manage organic waste and to produce energy. Using natural, biological processes, anaerobic digestion breaks down organic matter without oxygen, resulting in two bi-products: biogas and nutrient-rich compost. The biogas can be converted into clean, high-quality Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). This provides communities and businesses with a green and local supply of gas to meet growing energy needs—all without building new pipelines.
Food waste is the largest solid waste stream still going to landfills; Chicago alone creates 451,500 tons per year. Food waste in landfills generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas leading to climate disaster. Using food waste sourced from mission-aligned partnerships with local municipal agencies, local restaurants, food companies and manufacturers, and residents, we can begin to divert some of this food waste away from the landfills and give it a second life. The large volumes of organic, nutrient-rich compost produced by Green Era’s process will be provided at low-cost to farmers throughout the city and used on our seven-acre urban farm, which is expected to grow 26,000+ pounds of food annually.
Unsustainable practices primarily impact low-income communities of color; Black Americans are 75% more likely than others to live near facilities that produce hazardous waste. We’re flipping the script by centering under-resourced communities in creating climate resilience. Our self-sustaining model will produce consistent revenue from compost sales to support the development of a worker-owned cooperative and enable ongoing job creation. The only community-based energy project of its kind, Green Era will uplift the South Side of Chicago as a blueprint for the nation in developing a green economy, healthier lifestyles, and a sustainable future for all.