Monday, December 28, 2009

New Recycling Containers Arrive

Glen Ellyn's new wheeled recycling containers are being delivered this week. These should reduce blowing litter and be more convenient than the old containers. A number of sources state that by recycling we are reducing our carbon footprint.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why did Carmel, IN become a Cool City?

Why did Carmel, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis, become a Cool City?

According to a report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, when asked why he signed on to the Mayors Climate Protecton Agreement, Mayor James Brainard answered: “The answer is pretty simple. I signed the agreement to help establish goals for improved air quality, energy independence and carbon reduction.”

How has your city moved forward to reduce emissions?
“The City of Carmel has built over 50 roundabouts, which reduce gasoline usage by roughly 24,000 gallons of gasoline per roundabout per year. We are implementing a ‘smart code,’ which increases pedestrian connectivity throughout the city with better planning; we have added tens of miles of bike and pedestrian paths; we have increased density to cut down on automobile trips; we have a no-idling policy for city vehicles; we have a requirement that all city vehicles must be hybrids or use alternative fuel; we have replaced incandescent street lights with LEDs; we have created a walkable city center through public-private partnerships that help cut down on car trips; and we have developed a street tree program, which spends approximately $25 per person per year on street trees. Mixed-use development initiatives, especially, cut down on long car trips from commercial to residential zones.”

Which initiative in your city has had the greatest impact on reducing GHG emissions?
“Residents burn an estimated 470,000 fewer gallons of gas when using a roundabout versus waiting at a 4-way stop or traffic light. At $2.50 per gallon of gas, drivers save approximately $1,750,000 per year. Recent studies indicate roundabout interchanges significantly reduce toxic automobile emissions, creating a positive impact on the environment. Analysis performed at the 96th and Keystone intersection in Carmel, using traffic analysis and Environmental Protection Agency software, has indicated that replacing the existing signal at the intersection with a new roundabout interchange will reduce annual carbon monoxide emissions by 42 percent, nitrous oxide emissions by 29 percent, and hydrocarbon emissions by 71 percent. Additionally, studies cited by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show that annual carbon dioxide emissions are typically reduced by 37 percent when a traffic signal is replaced by a roundabout.”

Glen Ellyn has at least one roundabout. Do you know where it is?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sustainable wines found at Cabernet & Company and other local stores for the holidays

There is a carbon footprint and an environmental impact associated with any purchase of wine, but wineries are working hard at “sustainability.” What does this mean? Solar arrays are being installed in many vineyards, especially in California, to reduce energy consumption. Organic and biodynamic methods that include more natural approaches to pest control are being employed by vinyards to reduce the need for energy-intensive fertilizers and pesticides. Wineries are beginning to treat their vineyards as unique ecosystems. Another approach for the consumer is to buy local. Illinois makes a few good wines (yes, really). This reduces the energy required to ship it here, although many Illinois wine makers use some California grapes.

According to Alixe Lischett of Cabernet & Co., sustainable practices are being explored widely within the wine industry. She explained many are not yet classified and marketed as “sustainable” because they may want to use chemicals in a bad year to save the crops from ruin, but this is a very rare occurrence. Good examples of sustainable wines found at Cabernet & Co. include selections from Como Sur, Chile (organic); the Glunz Family Winery (local, and in returnable bottles); Ceago Winery (biodynamic); and Ridge Vineyards (integrated pest management). Also found at Cabernet & Co. is an interesting wine is from Basel Cellars “The Earth Series Volume One,” a red wine blend that is made using biodynamic practices that may soon be certified sustainable.

Fetzer Vineyards (uses solar power and other good practices, but finds it necessary to use plastic corks) can be found at Trader Joe’s.

Wines from Frey Vineyards (organic, biodynamic, and promises to be 100% solar powered in a few years) and Parducci (solar and wind power, and “carbon neutral”) can be found at Whole Foods.

Also look for Frog’s Leap, Napa Valley (solar power, geothermal cooling, organic practices); Rodney Strong, Sonoma County (“world’s largest” solar array used at a winery); and Shafer Vineyards, Napa Valley (solar power, shifting to organic wines).

So why does this matter to the wine lover? According to Dr. Dominique Bachelet, The Nature Conservancy's climate change scientist “…by the end of this century rising temperatures across the U.S. could reduce the areas suitable for premium wine production by up to 81 percent.” –

Photo credit: California Public Utilities Commission.

Monday, December 7, 2009

John Huston lecture has moved

News Flash! The Glen Ellyn Public Library reports that the lecture by John Huston has moved to a new location:

LOCATION CHANGE - This program will be held at St. Mark's Episcopal Church 393 N. Main St. (across from Giesche Shoes) Glen Ellyn. Along with his expedition partner Tyler Fish, John Huston is one of the first Americans to ski unsupported and unassisted to the North Pole. The expedition has been called "the hardest trek on the planet." John will talk about his inspiring and challenging journey and show stunning photos and video from his 55 day journey to the North Pole. Free.

Something to ponder in the meantime: Denmark has reduced its carbon emissions 13 percent while its economy grew 45 percent. Why can't we do that in Glen Ellyn?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Village update

They are harvesting more than corn in Indiana (see photo). But what are we doing in Glen Ellyn? Since our presentation to the Village Board at the end of October, the Village reports that it will have continued U.S. EPA support to help develop a baseline carbon emission inventory. EPA plans to have a new intern on Board in early January to provide labor and resources to finish the job. Once the inventory is done, the Village will have a "better handle on where we stand." As the Coalition would like to see it, that means finding the low hanging fruit for energy savings in our Village. Glen Ellyn is also discussing with College of DuPage how to find a potential intern who could do the internal staff work needed for a Cool Cities initiative. COD itself has an energy managemnt plan, and offers a degree in facility management. The Village shows signs of having an interest in becoming a Cool City, but due to serious budget and staff limitations, it is taking a cautious approach. That suggests we need to continue to develop community support and programs that will lead to a lasting effort to become a Cool City and to implement meaningful programs thereafter. The Chamber of Commerce supports the effort, and we will be seeking more public support. As with any public issue, a committed and informed citizenry is vital.