Environment, Sustainability Leaders Make Case to City Officials for Sustainable Naperville 2036

Sustainable Naperville
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In a pitch to city officials, the Naperville Environment and Sustainability Task Force (NEST) moved one step closer to helping shape a more sustainable future. A workshop hosted Tuesday brought people by the dozens to sit in on a series of presentations on this topic.

NEST leaders are currently seeking the Naperville City Council’s support of a climate action plan dubbed, Sustainable Naperville 2036, which they hope will help the city to build toward a more sustainable future. The plan is comprised of approximately 100 recommendations spanning nearly 300 pages.

About the Plan

Jodi Trendler, the group’s outgoing chairwoman, described the plan as both “achievable and manageable,” saying “this can be done if we do prioritize things and approach it very strategically.”

The report outlines several recommended objectives, including creating an ordinance committing the city to reporting, recording and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating a process for multi-stakeholder collaboration, reestablishing an interdepartmental task force on sustainability and developing/implementing a green purchasing program.

The city has already implemented some initiatives to promote sustainability. They include, among other things, the hiring of a sustainability coordinator and installing solar panels at the Springbrook Water Reclamation Center.

How It Works

NEST doesn’t expect the climate change action plan to be implemented immediately. In fact, the group is setting a 15-year window for the city to meet the recommended targets.

“This is our big ask of you as council members that you have to think long term, so longer than a typical 3-5 year strategic plan,” Trendler said. “15 years—you know, that’s not a common thing to do. So, when you’re thinking about our recommendations, there’s a lot but they’re meant to be implemented incrementally over time.”

NEST envisions its climate action report being a living document, so as to allow changes when necessary to meet current conditions.

Cathy Clarkin, the group’s incoming chairwoman, said they are encouraging a collaborative process where various entities in the community will come together to make meaningful change in the fight against climate change.

Where Does the Council Stand?

Several council members expressed optimism that NEST’s plan is a step in the right direction. But some shared concern for the number of recommendations outlined in the report.

“I hope you have some patience in terms of getting these things done because they are sometimes more complicated than you might imagine,” Councilman Paul Leong said.

“My concern is we don’t want it to die under its own weight,” Councilwoman Patricia Gustin said. “Hopefully, with staff’s diligence [and] with NEST’s diligence, people can work together and achieve some of the things that are in here, but it’s a great first step.”

Councilman Ian Holzhauer said it is important to point out that sustainability is about investing in the community.

“Naperville’s never been a community that’s about doing things the cheap way in the short run,” Holzhaeur said. “We’ve been foresighted; we’ve been careful; we’ve been wise. We are leaders.”

City Council Consensus

In the end, members of the council reached a consensus to support the recommendations of NEST’s immediate plan and five-year plan and direct city staff to continue working with NEST and other community organizations to perform outreach and engagement with different audiences and groups.

Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.

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