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updated: 6/26/2013 10:15 AM

Algonquin looks to continue Cool Cities program

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Algonquin leaders have given a preliminary green light to remain in a program that aims to curb dependence on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas by developing clean energy sources.

Tuesday night, the committee of the whole agreed to renew its membership in the Illinois Sierra Club's Cool Cities Program, which includes 59 other communities throughout the state.

Algonquin first joined the program in 2007 and since then officials have embarked on a number of projects meant to save energy.

They include:

• Organizing E-waste recycling events twice a year, which have resulted in residents turning in 343,000 pounds of electronics.

• Performing an energy efficiency retrofit of the historic village hall on Route 31. The village received an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant to do the work, which included adding additional insulation to the building, a move that's projected to save 252 therms annually in natural gas and 1.3 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

• Ordering energy audits at six village facilities.

• Installing LED traffic signals at Algonquin Road and Main Street

• Putting a solar-powered trash compactor with a recycling option at Cornish Park.

Michael Kumbera, the staff liaison between the village and Cool Cities, hopes the village's initiatives inspire the public to do some of the programs on a smaller scale.

"Hopefully, residents will see it for their benefit as well," Kumbera said.

Algonquin has prided itself on being a green community for years, but the Cool Cities program pushed them to come up with a clear plan for being more environmentally friendly. The previous five-year agreement expired and the new one, if the village board approves it at a future meeting, would last for three years.

One of the program's goals is to reduce climate change pollution by 2 percent from the 2009 baseline levels.

To that end, the village has already taken inventory of facilities and vehicles to measure their greenhouse gas emission, as well as developed an environmental action plan.

The village has two hybrid vehicles and two that run on natural gas. Within the next few years, Village President John Schmidt would like to see more hybrid vehicles and secure grants to install battery chargers around the village.

"When we do start to get those vehicles, we'll have the infrastructure in place to be able to use them and charge them and our residents can use it," Schmidt said.

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