Arlington Heights Leading in Sustainability

By Andrew Kellogg for SUST 210 Online

The Chicago Tribune has recently reported that the EPA has given accolades to Arlington Heights for its impressive dedication to green energy.  Now designated as a “Green Power Community,” the town has distinguished itself by having 23.7% of its electricity come from green power.  These resources include, but are not limited to, wind and solar power, such as the bike shelter at the downtown Metra station, which generates 2,100 kilowatts of energy every year.

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A solar power generating bike shelter in downtown Arlington Heights (photo: Sally Ho, Chicago Tribune)

Only 48 other municipalities in the nation are currently on the annual list including Aurora, Oak Park and Rolling Meadows here in suburban IL.  While the award is essentially for bragging rights, with no resulting funds or grants, it is a great way to honor responsible efforts by the community.  Just this April, Arlington Heights installed a new “Living Green” exhibit that showcases a variety of projects and options for sustainable lifestyles, from conserving energy at work or home, to efficient transportation for commuters.

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The Living Green exhibit inside the Arlington Heights Metra Station (photo: Sally Ho, Chicago Tribune)

Occupying the space once consumed by a McDonald’s restaurant inside the local Metra station, the exhibit was funded by just a small fraction of the $714,000 given to the village by the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant program by the US Dept of Energy as a result of Arlington Heights’ “energy efficiency conservation strategy” back in 2009.  With an estimated 2,800 riders at the station each day, the exhibit is well-situated to make an impact on anyone waiting for their train with some curiosity and a few minutes to spare.

It is refreshing to see a cycle of effort, accomplishment and recognition reinforcing sustainable practices in both Arlington Heights and its surrounding communities.  As Steve Mullany, a public works coordinator for the village said, “every little spark counts,” referring to the various implementations of energy efficiency scattered across town.  With that kind of mentality, and the support of the Village, it looks promising for the EPA to be recognizing Arlington Heights for many years to come.

Each week during the Fall 2013 semester, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 210 Sustainable Future online class at Roosevelt University will contribute blog posts on suburban sustainability issues to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.

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About Suburban Sustainability

Founder and editor of the Schaumburg's Sustainability Future social media project (est. Earth Day, 2011)
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