Last week, Brookfield became one of the first municipalities in northeast Illinois to endorse the 2021 Chicago-area Climate Action Plan, unveiled in July by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and created in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Global Covenant. mayors, with the support of the European Union, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the Metropolitan Planning Council.
The Climate Action Plan is the result of an assessment of regional climate-related risks and calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% from 2005 levels by 2050.
Although the scope of the plan is regional, encompassing 280 municipalities and nearly 9 million people, any actions requested can be extended to the municipal level, said Edith Makra, director of environmental initiatives for the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, of which Brookfield is a member. .
“The idea of structuring municipal support is just a way to engage with the plan, support its goals and work towards them,” Makra said in a telephone interview last week. “We have a climate crisis in our hands. I think given the extremes we’ve seen this year across the country and the world, it adds urgency to taking action on the climate. “
According to a press release issued in July during the unveiling of the Climate Action Plan, municipal governments are a critical cog, because they “are uniquely positioned to lead, adopt policies and encourage others to take action.”
According to a summary of the plan, municipalities can incorporate initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases and encourage and educate residents on what they can do.
Some suggested actions are as simple as modernizing municipal buildings, facilities and street lights for maximum energy efficiency, something Brookfield has already started to implement.
Other initiatives, again already underway at Brookfield, include prioritizing transit-focused development / support near stations, planning routes that benefit multiple modes of transportation, and sustainable water management. runoff.
More difficult-to-implement initiatives could include a focus on sustainable practices in municipal purchasing and operations, engagement with residential and commercial owners to optimize building energy efficiency, and the requirement for emissions. high performance or none in new construction.
With a unanimous vote on Sept. 27 to approve it, Brookfield was among the first five municipalities in the region to officially support the Climate Action Plan, Makra said, although the plan has received a very positive response since the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus began formally encouraging municipalities. adopt the plan in mid-September.
“Although we are at the very beginning, we are pleased with the extent of progress that we are seeing,” said Makra.
On September 27, several Brookfield directors expressed strong support for approval of the plan, urging the village to take action through board policies.
“I think this will help us prioritize future projects, prioritize plans that the [Brookfield] Conservation Commission does, but also how we prioritize future procurement with staff and board and our strategic plan, ”said administrator Katie Kaluzny, associate director of the Illinois Green Alliance and former member of the Conservation Commission .
Administrator Brian Conroy said he wanted the plan to be implemented locally.
“I don’t want to just pretend to talk about this,” Conroy said, highlighting initiatives such as adding solar panels to the roof of the town hall in the village, carrying out an energy audit and the idea of ” buy electric vehicles.
“We must lead by example and show that we are ready to walk in the right direction,” he added. “It appears that a third of our country is on fire or under water and we have a responsibility to do what we can to mitigate these measures and take concrete initiatives.”
Administrator Jennifer Hendricks, a licensed landscaper and former member of the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission, urged village staff to adopt the Climate Action Plan.
“I would hate to see this sitting on a shelf,” said Hendricks. “It would be really great to see a champion on the staff for this particular plan, just to make sure it’s consistent and integrated into every part of the village’s business. “
In a follow-up phone interview, village director Timothy Wiberg told The Landmark that he expects the new director of community development, Emily Egan, to spearhead the implementation of the plan. through the village.