The entire country was watching last fall when energy company Midwest Generation powered down the boilers at Fisk and Crawford, its two remaining Chicago-based coal-burning plants. Such headline-driving environmental victories are usually few and far between. But there are quieter coups that happen in this region every year that are worthy of celebration.

Chicago’s 2013 Green Awards go to a venture capitalist who is passionate about clean energy technology, a zero-waste hard cider maker, an eco-minded architect who is sending waves of change throughout his industry, an aquaponics advocate, and a biologist who is putting Loyola University Chicago on the national map for environmental innovation.

Together, these five men and women are a testament to the power of one.