Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

One of the Glencoe Sustainability Task Force’s priorities is working towards lowering the Village's carbon footprint.  Initially we focused on strategies for reducing energy consumption but concluded that defining the issue only in energy use terms might be too narrow.  Defining goals in terms of lowering the Village's carbon footprint recognizes linkage to other Task Force sustainability initiatives. 

For example, the agricultural sector’s large carbon footprint is a consideration behind the "Meatless Monday” initiative.  The Active Transportation Plan, adopted by the Village Board in 2017, provides guidance on projects which promote bicycle riding and walking within the Village.  A recently completed project proposed in the Active Transportation Plan is the sidewalk on the north side of Dundee Road near the Botanic Gardens.  The sidewalk makes it easier and safer for residents to access the Gardens.

With regard to energy consumption, the Task Force plans to obtain data on Glencoe’s natural gas and electricity usage so that we can start tracking energy usage over time and measure our progress in reducing our carbon footprint.  But we need not wait for the data to kick things off.  We can all recognize that efforts to reduce energy consumption not only can reduce a family's day-to-day "operating costs" but will also reduce our collective carbon footprint. 

A 2019 study of identical households in Britain found that the degree of variability in energy consumption across the houses studied could not be explained by only by the buildings’ physics.  The role of occupant behavior was as important in determining energy use.  Scholars on the subject concluded that large reductions in energy use through retrofitting alone would not be sufficient.  Meaningful reductions in energy use can only be achieved by a combination of structural and behavioral solutions.  

To get started, we suggest ordering a copy of The Citizen’s Utility Board’s “CUB’s Guide to Going Green” (www.ciitizensutilityboard.org, the Guide is sent via e-mail).  The Guide provides an overview of developments in Illinois’ energy and power markets as well as consumers’ options for solar power.  The brochure provides a list of easy steps you can take to lower energy consumption.  Cost-free steps include lowering the thermostat temperature, washing clothes in cold water, turning off electronic equipment which is otherwise in standby mode.  Low cost steps include using LED lighting, regularly changing the furnace filter, sealing door/window leaks, installing low-flow faucets and shower heads. 

Both Commonwealth Edison and North Shore Gas offer free energy efficiency assessments as well as selected financial incentives for investing in energy reduction technologies. ComEd reports that its energy efficiency programs have saved customers $2 billion. The retail customer program has 40 offerings to help reduce electricity usage - including rebates which offset the cost of LED lighting and energy saving thermostats. 

We also encourage residents to consider other ways in which they create a carbon footprint, such traveling by air.  According to the New York Times, air travel, especially long trips, is one of the worst things a person can do for the climate. 

There are options for people to “atone” for their environmental impact.  An increasingly available option is carbon offsets, essentially donations to climate-positive projects.  The Times suggests that in order to assure your money goes to worthwhile projects, check for certifications from groups like “Gold Standard” or “Green-E”. Purchasing carbon offsets may be tax deductible and will make you feel even better about that vacation!

An immediate step you can take towards lowering your carbon footprint would be to sign up for the North Shore Community Solar project currently featured on the Village of Glencoe’s website.  Community Solar enables the homeowner to go solar at no cost and to save up to 20% on the cost of electricity consumed.

The Task Force will continue to encourage the Village to consider sustainability in its planning and decision making.  Issues we plan to investigate in 2021 include: installing EV charging stations and supporting the continued implementation of Active Transportation Plan.

Submitted by Glencoe Sustainability Task Force Member Larry Reilly