A group portrait (from left): Chicago publisher Randy Hano, Florian Pfahler, Doug Farr, Naomi Davis, Bil Becker, Jill Salisbury, and the Shedd’s Debra Fassnacht. Click the thumbnails below to view the gallery.


Green. Eco-friendly. Sustainable. Whatever you want to call it, Chicago magazine’s 2008 class of Green Awards honorees prove that environmental consciousness is not just a trend, it’s a lifestyle. "’Green’ is a word you find on magazine covers every day," says Bill Sturm, a 2007 honoree. "But this is about the depth, the passion, not just the word."

On April 17th, nearly 120 people gathered at the Shedd Aquarium to honor five Chicagoans whose passion is manifesting in innovative ways. Honorees included Florian Pfahler, owner of Chicago’s first organic carryout eatery, Hannah’s Bretzel; Naomi Davis, founder of the minority-driven environmental coalition Blacks in Green; Bil Becker, the inventor of an urban wind turbine and CEO of Aerotecture International; Jill Salisbury, furniture designer and founder of el: Environmental Language; and Doug Farr, owner of the eco-friendly architecture firm Farr Associates.

"A lot of times I hear, ‘I’m just one person,’" says Salisbury, "but this event showcases how one person really can make a difference."

Sipping "Be Greenie-tinis" against the blue backdrop of Lake Michigan, guests discussed how, through creativity and innovation in business, Chicago is a city on the forefront of sustainability—a distinction that’s not bound to fade anytime soon. "Five years from now, this is going to be the standard," says Pfahler. "The benefits are economic and environmental. For those reasons alone, it is going to stay around."

Photograph: Selena Salfen