Sustainability is a guiding principle that embraces the belief that everything needed for the well-being of humankind depends directly or indirectly on our natural environment.
That includes the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land and waterways we use. Organizations that adopt sustainable practices as part of their business operations reevaluate their processes to determine their ecological impact on these natural systems and make changes that improve those systems.
In the early 2000s, the Village Board tasked the village manager and his executive team to evaluate the ecological impacts that village operations had on the local environment. As part of this process, several operational practices were identified for reengineering to improve their environmental impact. Sustainable improvements made as a result of that collective effort include the following:
• Applying brine solution as an anti-icing agent to reduce the amount of road salt used for snow and ice removal by approximately 30 percent on average in a winter season.
• Replacing 1,270 energy-inefficient lights and ballasts in the village hall and its satellite facilities to reduce energy consumption by more than 400,000 kilowatts per year.
• Upgrading the carrying capacity of curbside recycling containers from 20 to 65 gallons to help increase the residential waste diversion rate from 32 percent to 45 percent.
• Planting about 1,343 new hardy parkway trees an intensive reforestation of public parkways to combat the emerald ash borer infestation. Another 1,200 plantings are scheduled for the 2014 growing season.
• Constructing five miles of pedestrian and bicycle pathways, with approximately 7.5 miles of additional pathway planned for construction in the near future.
• Upgrading approximately 110 traditional mercury-vapor streetlight installations with energy-efficient LED light fixtures, which use between 24 and 30 percent less electricity while enhancing light output by up to 16 percent.
Two notable sustainability projects currently under way include the expansion of the multi-family recycling tote program at six rental communities and one condominium complex, which involves the willing participation of residents living in 1,792 multi-family units. The goal of this effort is to increase the recycling rate at these developments by 50 percent during the coming 12 months.
In addition, Public Works has hired a private contractor to upgrade 33 streetlight installations in portions of the Western Trails residential subdivision, which when completed, will improve the quality and decrease the operational costs of roadway lighting in this area of the village.
The village has worked intentionally and with forethought during the past decade to integrate the principle of sustainability in its resource planning and service delivery efforts. In doing so, the village organization acknowledges that the benefits provided by a healthy and sustainable planet are to be the inheritance of the generations to come.
Additional information on the village’s ongoing commitment to sustainability can be found on its homepage at www.carolstream.org under the menu heading “About Carol Stream.”
Christopher Oakley is the assistant to the village manager for the village of Carol Stream.