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updated: 4/17/2011 6:53 PM

Itasca's 'green' initiatives capture honor

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Like a novice runner joining a marathon club for motivation, Itasca set a goal shortly after forming a committee to "go green" last year.

The village partnered with SCARCE, or School and Community Assistance for Composting and Recycling Education, in an effort to attain the group's Earth Flag Certification. The award from Glen Ellyn-based SCARCE certifies a business or municipality has implemented a certain level of eco-friendly initiatives.

The village will receive its Earth Flag on Tuesday after months of starting new programs.

"The program helps because you have those clear goals and set a timeline," said Grant Davis, Itasca staff planner. "We already wanted to see what we could do really to go green and improve our sustainability and this came up as a good goal."

To get village administration and staff in sync with the program, Itasca's "Green Team" launched a recycling program at all village offices and installed rain barrels at village hall to reduce water use. Two new policies were created to encourage employees to reduce waste, recycle and conserve energy, and another to encourage buying affordable office products that are also environmentally friendly.

In addition, Itasca will host its third annual Green Day from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 7, at the Itasca Metra parking lot. At the event, residents can recycle and safely dispose of materials like electronics, batteries, motor oil, and antifreeze for free.

Davis said he ran into a surprise along the path to earning the Earth Flag: learning about eco-friendly practices already in place in Itasca, such as the public works department's no-idling policy and the police department's prescription drug drop-off.

"One of the steps is an environmental audit and, like anywhere, there's room for improvement," said Davis. "But it was interesting to see this inventory of what we're already doing right."

When leaders receive the flag at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at village hall, two businesses also will be honored for their sustainable practices.

Solberg Manufacturing, Inc. will be celebrated for installing 210 solar panels on its roof last year. Davis said the panels generate enough electricity to light the entire facility. Other initiatives at the company include diverting more than 80 percent of its waste stream from landfills and using energy-efficient lighting.

"We found out about Solberg when they went to install their solar panels and applied for building permits," Davis said. "But the solar panels are just the tip of the iceberg. It's an impressive operation that even tries to reduce noise pollution for employees."

The village also will honor the Westin Chicago Northwest. Davis said the hotel has an extensive recycling program for guests and staff, energy-efficient lighting, water-saving fixtures, and numerous other green initiatives.

Grant said village leaders hope to make the business environmental awards an annual tradition.

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