'We can become a leader': Naperville City Council accepts ambitious environmental plan

  • The Naperville City Council unanimously agreed to work with the ambitious 300-page report presented by the Naperville Environment and Sustainability Task Force.

    The Naperville City Council unanimously agreed to work with the ambitious 300-page report presented by the Naperville Environment and Sustainability Task Force. Courtesy of the City of Naperville

 
 
Posted9/2/2021 5:30 AM

The Naperville City Council is poised to embrace an ambitious environmental plan with a vision extending to 2036.

A workshop on Tuesday featured a presentation from the Naperville Environment and Sustainability Task Force, which created a 300-page report as the culmination of two years of work from a team of 50 volunteers. Council members voted unanimously to accept three plans from the task force, including a five-year plan and an outreach and engagement plan.

 

While no financial or actionable commitment was made, the council appeared eager to act on 92 recommendations from the "Sustainable Naperville 2036" report.

"The idea that we're just stuck with what we have can be challenged," Councilman Ian Holzhauer said. "This detailed sustainability report, which so many people put so many thousands of hours into, is a great first step in that direction."

In an emotional introduction, Jodi Trendler, task force founder and outgoing chairwoman, praised fellow members for their commitment since the panel formed in 2019. She also thanked residents for their support.

After highlighting the sustainability projects already completed -- including the installation of more than 3,000 solar panels at the Springbrook Water Reclamation Center and the creation of a compressed natural gas fueling station -- presenters outlined the many objectives that encompass the 15-year vision.

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The report features plans for municipal leadership, energy, transportation and mobility, waste, natural resources, and building and development with collaboration among different local organizations -- such as the park district, library and school districts -- to drastically reduce emissions.

Highlights include transitioning to clean and renewable energy, incentivizing energy efficiency, developing a plan for electric vehicle infrastructure, increasing public transportation use and recycling efforts, and focusing on the maintenance of natural resources.

Other objectives include a 4% annual reduction in waste, energy use and vehicle miles driven in conjunction with an increase in tree planting to help decrease greenhouse gases by 4% each year.

One of the recent steps taken by the city was hiring Ben Mjolsness as Naperville's first sustainability coordinator. Mjolsness on Tuesday talked about the many options and incentives residents have with energy efficiency and recycling.

Councilman Patrick Kelly said he looked forward to showcasing Naperville as a front-runner in sustainability.

"We can become a leader, like people have mentioned, and hope that others follow us," Kelly said.

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