Climate Change

At our May 28 meeting, City Council voted to purchase $775,000 of electricity over the next year to power our street lights, water plant, and other city buildings. I am proud that my questions on this issue ultimately led to changes that will reduce our City’s environmental impact this year.  While low carbon electricity sources were not included in the original proposal, we will be purchasing 100% renewable energy for 4 of the 10 contracts included in this purchase.

According to the National Academy of Sciences: “Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused primarily by human activities, and poses significant risks to humans and the environment. These risks indicate a pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare for adapting to its impacts.” The report is available here.

In 2005, Mayor Belsky signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. A total of 1,060 mayors in all 50 states have signed on — including those of Evanston, Lake Forest, Northbrook, Waukegan, Wilmette and Chicago. The agreement commits the City to reduce carbon emissions to 7% below 1990 levels by 2012 and to support a national emissions trading system.

I will be working with City staff, Mayor Rotering and the City Council to ensure that we increase the percentage of renewables in our future electricity purchases, and increase the energy efficiency of City buildings. Highland Park can lead the way in sustainability by taking concrete actions that will save us money and reduce our environmental impact.

Water Conservation

The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater ecosystem on the planet. The Lakes provide 18% of the world’s supply of fresh surface water and 90% of the U.S. supply.  Lake Michigan, by volume, is the second largest Great Lake and its water level has been near record lows for several years now. Highland Park recently adopted a new conservation pricing plan for water (click here for information). Now is a great time to look at your water usage and find ways to reduce. Remember that Highland Park has an odd/even sprinkler restriction in effect for the summer months — sprinkle on odd days if your address is an odd number, or even days for even addresses.  It’s more effective to water early in the morning, so that the water goes into the soil instead of evaporating with the midday sun.  Native plants don’t require as much water as lawns, since their roots reach deeper into the ground.  More water saving tips can be found by clicking here.