With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this April, Northbrook and other communities are filled with ideas to help families live greener lives. The sustainability movement is not limited to individual action by residents. Businesses of all sizes are placing a greater emphasis on environmentally-friendly practices, and finding that socially responsible choices also have a positive effect on the bottom line.
“Greening your business is good for you because it cuts costs, motivates employees and brings in customers who support your values,” notes Sarah Sanford, President of Go Green Northbrook. “With the Village priority of sustainability, residents are looking everywhere for ways they can make an impact. Why not do the right thing for your business and the planet?”
The increasing awareness of green practices has led to a variety of common-sense strategies used in many businesses. Printing on both sides of a sheet of paper (or not printing at all) saves the business from purchasing paper as well as destruction or storage costs. Installation of LED bulbs and energy saving appliances conserves electricity while lowering utility bills, as does reducing water use wherever possible. Rebates are often available to offset the cost of upgrades. The Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) provides links to helpful rebate and incentive programs for Illinois businesses on its website, http://www.SmartEnergy.Illinois.edu.
The Village of Northbrook has also stepped up to support green choices, in keeping with its goals to pursue more sustainable practices In the last year, the Village augmented its free recycling collection programs with a plastic bag collection site, a shopping bag trade-in program, and initiatives to promote bike transportation. Local efforts to live and work sustainably are recognized by the Village’s Annual Green Resident and Green Business Awards.
Since 2018, Northbrook has participated in the Greenest Region Compact, a strategic plan of environmental goals with 129 local government signatories. As part of the GRC program, the Village has an Americorps volunteer on staff as its Greenest Region Fellow, Charmaine John, who is developing a sustainable business recognition program modeled on a similar initiative in Evanston. Northbrook also participates in the SolSmart initiative to encourage solar energy installations; the Village has earned the organization’s silver designation for its efforts.
As its next step in promoting environmental policies, the Village recently announced plans for a new study to confront the implications of climate change. An RFP has been issued for consultants to prepare reports encompassing a local climate baseline assessment, vulnerability analysis and action framework. The research is expected to seek community input and develop recommendations for local strategies to adapt to or prevent climate change. In the recent Northbrook Voice newsletter, Village President Sandy Frum referred to the assessment as a “strategic roadmap for our sustainability efforts.”