Halfway Through the Plan!

Halfway Through the Plan!

The PlanItGreen Sustainability Plan for Oak Park and River Forest – was created through compiling baseline data and holding many community forums, led by Seven Generations Ahead in collaboration with the Delta Institute.  The planning was funded primarily by the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation’s Communityworks Endowment Fund. Communityworks has three priority areas, including Environmental Sustainability.  PlanItGreen was established as a 10 year plan in this area, beginning in 2011. Thus, we are half-way through the Plan.

Working Forum for Congregation Green Teams

Congregation green teams and other interested persons are invited to participate in a forum on Thursday, May 8, 7 - 8:30 pm, at the Oak Park Library, Veterans Room.  IGN Logo w NameThe agenda will include:

1. PlanItGreen

  • Present “Check-off” list for congregations, followed by discussion. (Gary Cuneen, Seven Generations Ahead)
  • Break out session, regarding the critical topic areas:Energy – Transportation – Education  --  Water  --  Food  -- Waste - Open Space
  • Each congregation is invited to send at least 3-5 people from their green team to participate in different breakout groups.


2. Energy Impact Illinois

  • Presentation of house of worship energy efficiency program.—Skyler Larrimore, Elevate Energy
  • Case study: First United Methodist Church.
  • Energy efficiency for private residences. And a congregation contest!

The community has been alerted to the importance of restoring the health of our environment, and as was stated at the recent OP Village Board meeting, “There is a lot at stake.”  This is a good opportunity to reruit new members. Educate friends. Now is the time to make change for the good of all, together!

Please RSVP to James Babcock: or 630.740.0638 or Dick Alton: or 773-344-7172.

Reminder & Updates on the Oak Park Green Energy Appeal

Four ways to make your voice heard in support of green energy in Oak Park TODAY:

OO-Too small to fail (2)

  1. Help us pack the house and ATTEND tonight's Special Village Board meeting at 8PM to demonstrate support for green energy and sustainability policies. (Room 101 at Oak Park Village Hall, 123 Madison St. - at S. Lombard Ave.)
  2. SIGN the petition urging the board to recommit Oak Park to 100% renewable (green) energy. (Link to petition:
  3. OPT IN to a 100% renewable electric energy option. You can learn details at tonight's village board meeting. Various organizations like GCC will also be sharing this information.
  4. SHARE this message with Oak Park friends, family and neighbors. We need your help!

Details and Updates on Oak Park's Energy Aggregation Program

Constellation, the Village’s new brown-energy contractor, says it is not possible to replace the brown contract with a green contract because Constellation has already contracted for a specific mix of energy sources, but there will be an opportunity to select 100% renewable energy.  Residents will begin receiving a notice from Constellation starting today which includes the following three choices:

  1. Do nothing and you will be included in the DEFAULT brown energy option (a mix of coal, natural gas and nuclear) at a rate of 7.470 cents per kwh).
  2. Check the box at the bottom of the form which says “I do not want to participate in the Village of Oak Park Electricity Aggregation Program” and fill in the rest of the form.  This results in you reverting to Com Ed as your energy supplier.
  3. The third option is to select the 100% renewable energy option at a rate of 7.570 cents per kwh shown in the mailing by a green box in the lower right side of the mailer.  The 100% renewable option is available through Constellation’s call center only.  It requires a call to an 800#.  THIS IS THE OPTION THAT WE WILL BE ENCOURAGING OP RESIDENTS TO CHOOSE.

This approach -- requiring a separate phone call from each household to opt-in for green -- makes green energy the difficult option, and it will be an uphill battle to get a people enrolled.  The typical community that requires that citizens to opt-in has less than 10% take advantage of the opt-in choice.  Fortunately Oak Park is not typical, and we will be working hard to get a large percentage of OP residents to choose 100% renewable energy.

Earthrise in childs handsWe will also work tonight to help the board see the bigger picture of their role in the fight against climate change and what can be done at the village level.  At this stage, individual action is not enough to turn things around. We will stress with them that our Village committed over two years ago to the PlanItGreen Sustainability Plan and there is too much at stake to turn around now.  In fact, rather than retreating, as a Village, we should be pushing forward with bigger and bolder policies.  We will be asking the board to ramp up their support for this plan and strategies that move this plan forward.

Please join us!

Connect to Action: Congregation Green Teams Make a Difference

Green Teams associated with 20+ congregations in the Oak Park and River Forest areas are making a difference in their faith communities, in their facilities, in their community and

Euclid Ave UMC installs Geothermal HVAC

in state policies that promote sustainability.  If you are looking for a place to get involved and make a difference locally, often your own congregation is a great place to start!

If your congregation has a green team, consider joining it; if not, consider starting one.  You will find start-up ideas and resources in the GreenFaith Start-up Kit and GreenFaith Sustainability Resources.

Continue reading to find out how Oak Park and River Forest congregations are taking action to care for the earth.Green Teams are:

  • Conducting zero waste events and reduced waste sent to the landfill to near zero!
  • Planting congregation vegetable gardens and donating the food to the food pantry.
  • Landscaping with native plants that reduce flooding and support the natural water cycle.
  • Installing renewable energy sources including geothermal and solar in their facilities.  (Note that grants have been received to help congregations afford these capital expenses.)
  • Making their facilities more energy efficient:  using energy audits to guide the work and working to “seal the envelope,” and install energy efficient appliances.
  • Traveling to Springfield to advocate for environmental legislation at the state level.

The Interfaith Green Network is a network of area congregations who through sharing sustainability practices, projects and dialogue is working to build a vibrant vision and role for congregations in caring for Planet Earth.  Twenty-two congregations have participated in the Network to date.

James Babcock of First United Church of Oak Park, Mac Robinet of St.Edmund Parish, and Dick Alton of Euclid Ave United Methodist Church make up the leadership team for the Interfaith Green Network. A high priority of the network is helping congregations to form and strengthen green teams. For help getting a green team started at your congregation or getting your congregation engaged in the Interfaith Green Network, please contact Dick Alton, or 773-344-7172.

See also related article about upcoming  Interfaith Green Network Forum on Priorities for 2014.

Energy Efficiency Workshop for OP-RF Congregations

Start the New Year off right and learn how faith-based institutions in Oak Park and River Forest can achieve PlanItGreen goals and save energy and thousands of dollars every year!

Recycle with leaves

This complimentary workshop, co-sponsored by PlanItGreen, the Interfaith Green Network, and the Illinois Facilities Fund (IFF), provides actionable steps and timelines for how Interfaith Green Network and PlanItGreen-affiliated religious organizations can significantly lower utility bills, provide a healthy environment for their congregations, and support congregational and PlanItGreen sustainability goals for 2013.

WHEN:  Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 7:00pm – 8:00pm


WHERE:  Oak Park Public Library (Veteran’s Room, 2nd Floor), 834 Lake Street

WHO:  This workshop is ideal for Oak Park and River Forest faith-based organizations operating in older facilities. Pastors, green team leaders, building operations managers, and congregation decision-makers are strongly encouraged to attend.

Participants will learn how IFF can:


  • Assess your facility's energy use and evaluate your best options for energy savings
  • Explain which grants and incentives are available to your organization to help cover costs
  • Provide affordable, flexible loans for upfront costs—and use the savings from your lower energy costs to pay the loan back
  • Oversee all energy upgrades and train your staff to help maximize savings

IFF's Energy Performance Program (E2P) has identified hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy savings for nonprofits and institutions of faith—join us on the 14th to learn how IFF can help your organization!

To RSVP or to learn more, contact SGA at or Dick Alton at