MacArthur Awards for Creative & Effective Institutions

Center for Neighborhood Technology

Chicago, Illinois | 2009 Award Recipient

Pioneering practical innovation

The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), located in Chicago, is a think tank and incubator that has driven innovative, urban policy ideas for over thirty years.

Working in four principal areas — energy, transportation, climate, and natural resources — CNT conducts research and analysis, tests new ideas, and develops practical applications that can be used by policy makers and private enterprise.

CNT’s programs in sustainable development have had considerable impact. I-GO, a car-sharing program that serves 30 neighborhoods in Chicago, Evanston, and Oak Park, attracted 12,000 members over five years. CNT Energy, which helps residential consumers to cut energy costs by reducing usage at peak hours, was adopted by ComEd and other electricity providers in the Midwest. CNT is building on that success with the Energy Savers Program, which offers a one-stop shop for energy audits and loans to finance improvements that bring down natural gas and electricity costs. Reductions in energy consumption lower the operating costs for rental properties, keeping them affordable for a longer term.

CNT’s research is similarly influential. CNT developed the Housing and Transportation Affordability Index, an online tool that for the first time quantifies the impact of transportation costs on housing affordability for 54 metropolitan areas across the country. Both HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and DOT Secretary Ray LaHood recently cited CNT’s Index during their Congressional testimony to support a new interagency partnership between the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation.

As energy efficiency, housing, urban and metropolitan issues, and sustainable development are once more at the center of national attention, CNT will play an important role in providing reliable analysis, creative research, and innovative ideas that have been tested in practice.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology will use its $650,000 award to expand its research capacities, reach a wider national audience, and build its operating reserve.


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