South Shore Clean Cities is celebrating 20 years this month and its leaders are taking a look back on the successes of its members and partners over the past two decades.
“We are thrilled South Shore Clean Cities has reached the 20-year milestone,” Executive Director Carl Lisek said. “This achievement is not about us or our staff, but about the many successes of its members and partners along the way who have played a role in improving the quality of life for those who live, work and play in Northern Indiana by embracing sustainable transportation fuels, vehicles, equipment and energy options. We thank them for their dedication and look forward to their continued successes.”
South Shore Clean Cities is a nonprofit, member-based coalition dedicated to promoting sustainable transportation in Northern Indiana. South Shore Clean Cities was designated the 71st Clean Cities coalition on June 15, 1999 and is now one of nearly 100 U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities coalitions. The coalitions partner with members in the public, private and nonprofit sectors to increase the use and implementation of sustainable transportation and its infrastructure.
The programs supported by South Shore Clean Cities and its members support domestic fuels, strengthen the nation’s energy security, reduce dependence on imported oil, improve air quality and support local jobs and the local economy.
The seeds of South Shore Clean Cities were planted in the late 1990s by leadership at NIPSCO. The public utility provided support for South Shore Clean Cities to successfully achieve nonprofit status and to be formally recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy as a Clean Cities coalition.
The coalition initially covered Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties in Northwest Indiana under the leadership of the first two coordinators, Liz Williams and Deb McClelland-Parker.
Husband and wife Carl and Lorrie Lisek – vice-president and president of Legacy Environmental Services, respectively -- became co-coordinators of South Shore Clean Cities in 2005.
The Liseks managed South Shore Clean Cities from their home from 2005 to 2009, when they established offices in the Purdue Technology Center and Research Park in Crown Point. Lorrie Lisek became the Executive Director of Wisconsin Clean Cities in 2011, covering the entire state of Wisconsin, and Carl Lisek became the sole Executive Director of South Shore Clean Cities.
South Shore Clean Cities moved to its current location at 123 N. Main St. on the historic Crown Point downtown square in February 2017.
The coalition has seen tremendous growth in the last 20 years. South Shore Clean Cities now covers 18 counties in roughly the northern third of the state of Indiana and membership is now five times the level it was in 2005.
South Shore Clean Cities lives its mission through education and outreach, training, grant writing and funding acquisition, project management and the development of stakeholder partnerships. In November 2018, South Shore Clean Cities was honored at the National Clean Cities Coordinator Training Workshop for having the most outreach events of any of the nation’s nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions. The organization has also assisted its members in successfully acquiring an approximate $90 million in grant funding since its inception.
Among the projects led by South Shore Clean Cities are:
- NIPSCO’s IN-Charge Project: The project led to the deployment and management of more than 250 home charging stations and 159 public charging stations in 60 locations throughout Northern Indiana from 2012 to 2016.
- The BP Cleaner Air through Diesel Emissions Reductions (BP CADER) grant program: The program provided $450,000 through a competitive grant process in 2013-14 aimed at reducing diesel emissions in Lake County. Projects included the Lake County Sheriff’s Department receiving nearly $25,000 to repower patrol/search and rescue boat engines with cleaner-burning engines and MediDock stations to reduce idling ambulances at Lake County hospitals. The unused funds remaining in the project went to the School City of East Chicago in 2017 to introduce propane buses into the fleet, marking the first use of propane school buses in the Region.
- Green Fleet Program: South Shore Clean Cities manages the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission’s (NIRPC’s) and Michiana Area Council of Government’s (MACOG’s) Green Fleet Programs, which aim to improve the environmental performance of fleets in the two metropolitan planning organization’s respective territories. Through the program, South Shore Clean Cities guides nearly 60 municipal, county, school and university member fleets to help mitigate barriers preventing the adoption of sustainable transportation options while creating policies supporting petroleum and vehicle emission reductions.
In the last decade alone, South Shore Clean Cities members have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 607,000 tons and reduced the number of gasoline gallon equivalents by 93 million gallons. That is the equivalent of removing 175,500 passenger vehicles from the road for one year and eliminating the use of nearly 2 million barrels of oil.
The amount of greenhouse gas emissions members have reduced in just the last decade has increased substantially as well, from 2,461 tons in 2009 to 151,210 tons in 2019.
Both Carl and Lorrie Lisek were inducted into the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Hall of Fame in 2015. They were both also honored by the late U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar as Indiana Energy Patriots in 2007.
A 20th Anniversary Celebration will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at Avalon Manor, 3550 E. Lincoln Highway in Merrillville, Indiana. The event is free thanks to the generous support of sponsors, including Best Equipment, Cummins, Family Express, Indiana Corn Marketing Council, NIPSCO, Ozinga and ROUSH CleanTech.
The business casual event will feature heavy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Registration is required and is available online at https://conta.cc/2W6Dbf6. For more information, contact South Shore Clean Cities at (219) 644-3690.
About South Shore Clean Cities
South Shore Clean Cities is a 501(c)(3) organization managed by Legacy Environmental Services, Inc., a woman-owned, certified Women's Business Enterprise. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities coalitions are nonprofit organizations designed to reduce petroleum consumption in the transportation sector by advancing the use of clean fuels and vehicles, idle reduction technologies, hybrid electric vehicles, fuel blends and fuel economy while supporting domestic fuels and reducing dependence on imported oil. Learn more at www.southshorecleancities.org.