Northbrook brokers sustainability discussions
Updated: November 3, 2012 2:14PM
NORTHBROOK — “Sustainability” is the new energy buzzword circulating among many Northbrook residents.
The group that met Tuesday came up with dozens of ideas they would like to see implemented in the village.
After an overview of the sustainability project presented by Philip Kiraly, assistant village manager, and Jennifer Rooks-Lopez, Northbook Park District’s planner and project manager, the group broke into smaller segments and brain-stormed ways to achieve their sustainability goals.
They discussed open space and ecosystems, material resources, energy, transportation, community development and water quality and conservation. The suggestions will be added to those presented during an Oct. 3 meeting and combined with the on-line survey.
“The survey is just one of the vegetables in the soup,” said Gary Cuneen, executive director of Seven Generations Ahead, a consultant specializing in the development of ecologically sustainable and healthy communities.
“There were almost 500 respondents to the survey. I was blown away by the number,” said Eve Pytel, program manager at the Delta Institute, a consultant focusing on sustainable development and environmental stewardship. “But there was no one thing the people want to do. Everyone wants to do everything.”
That enthusiasm marked the suggestions that came without pause Tuesday. Some ideas were lofty, such as creating a long term goal of Northbrook eventually becoming a self-sufficient community on its on own grid.
Some were practical, like creating incentives for owners who made their homes or business more energy efficient. Some were futuristic, such as reducing energy consumption by 40 percent in public buildings and residences.
Many wanted Northbrook to be a more bike-friendly community, reducing vehicle emissions and improving air quality. Many insisted that the public should be made more aware of different methods of practicing energy efficiency.
However, one landlord who owns commercial property said he was afraid he would be forced to make expensive changes, such as retrofitting his buildings, which would benefit his tenants, but not him.
“There is a lot of low hanging fruit, such as increasing public awareness of the problem. We’ve got to get down to the local level, and anything the village can do to increase awareness of the problem is important,” said Scott Cyphers, a homeowner.
Another resident, Diane Freeman, noted that the most important thing accomplished so far is that community members are actually talking about the issues.
“Residents are initiating a conversation to address important aspects of the environment in their own village. Reducing materials sent to landfills, water quality and pest management are all at the top of my list,” she added.
And Joan Schwimmer, also a homeowner, said she was happy seeing the problems being addressed at all.
“My interest is more environmental, not program planning,” she added. “But there is only one planet. We have to do something to preserve it.”