DuPage gives nod to Cool Counties program
Updated: October 2, 2012 2:25PM
WHEATON — The program might need to be renamed, at least for now. Cool County would be more accurate.
DuPage officials this week became the first in Illinois to sign on to the Sierra Club’s statewide Cool Counties initiative. Supported by the local chapter as well as the DuPage Environmental Commission, the move codifies the county’s willingness to actively support the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
State Sierra Club director Jack Darin was one of several residents who encouraged the measure in comments to the County Board Tuesday. Darin, who lives in Naperville, commended the county’s green policies and said the club stands ready to support the goals outlined in the commitment. His comments echoed a letter of support he wrote to Environmental Committee Chairman Jeff Redick earlier this week.
“These local sustainability efforts have demonstrated strongly that we can all make a difference,” Darin wrote. “Although the consequences of climate change threaten our entire planet, the solutions to these threats are very local, and we can all do our part.”
Redick pointed out that the initiative is far from the county’s first foray into environmentally benign practices. Officials already have taken steps that have cut annual electricity consumption at the county’s Wheaton campus by 2 million kilowatts, Redick said, saving some $142,000 yearly.
The new commitment entails a set of recommendations that include a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions countywide by 10 percent from 2007 levels by 2020, and 20 percent a decade later.
Lombard resident Lonnie Morris, executive chair of the Sierra Club’s River Prairie Group, said the initial goal of an 80 percent reduction by 2050 may have been overly ambitious.
“Those are attainable — and attainable is key — attainable targets,” Morris told commission members at their meeting Wednesday.
Also in the set of policy commitments are establishment of a partnership with corporate and other governmental members; more moves to lower energy consumption; support for mass transit and non-motorized modes of transportation; enforcement of existing conservation codes; provision of information about tax credits and grant opportunities linked to conservation practices; and efforts to educate consumers about the benefits of shopping locally and buying locally grown food and other goods.
That final piece of the resolution was taken out temporarily, at the direction of State’s Attorney Bob Berlin, but replaced in the final version. The Illinois Cool Counties Facebook page commended the reversal in a Sept. 5 post: “Kudos to County Board Members Dirk Enger and Robert Larsen (District 6) for successfully restoring the clause about educating on local food back into the Cool Counties Resolution.”
Morris acknowledged to the commission that the real work is only now beginning. County environmental specialist Joy Hinz confirmed that.
“We’ll be starting to form a group so that we can come up with a plan and work on our initiatives,” she said.
Morris was very pleased to see the process kicking off.
“DuPage’s leadership on this is very important. It affirms that a county can work on energy solutions, and they’re going to find it’s part of their fiscal responsibility approach. There’s money to be saved on this,” she said. “It’s a win-win. It’s good for everybody.”