Environmental Sustainability in Northbrook
Climate Action Plan
The Village of Northbrook is committed to addressing climate change on a local level. Over the course of the past decade, the Village has been refining its local policies to address environmental issues like climate change and pollution. In 2021, the Village now wishes to take more directed steps through creation of Northbrook's Climate Action Plan. The Climate Action Plan is currently in progress: refer to this webpage for frequently updated information.
Greenest Region Compact
When Northbrook signed on to the Greenest Region Compact in September 2018, the Village agreed to achieve green goals in collaboration with other municipalities across the Chicagoland region. Through the Greenest Region Corps, Northbrook receives an Americorps volunteer to serve our community as a Sustainability Fellow. With the GRC agreement, the Village tracks progress in 10 key sustainability areas:
With the warming weather comes melting snow and ice. Friends of the Chicago River monitor this and sometimes declare Overflow Action Days. Try to reduce your shower time, delay laundry loads, and running the dishwasher on days with heavy rain and snow runoff to minimize wastewater and stormwater entering our natural systems. Sign up for Action Overflow alerts at https://bit.ly/2ZPAGlA
The best way to care for trees weighed down by heavy snow is to be prepared before the blizzard hits. Major snowfall and ice storms can cause bending and damage, especially to smaller or younger trees. Proper dormant pruning creates a strong, healthy, and structurally sound tree that is more likely to weather a storm successfully. It is best to trim back low-hanging, damaged, or broken branches when plants are not actively growing in winter. Learn more from the Chicago Botanic Garden.
There is a common misconception that a modern car needs to idle for a few minutes in winter before you start driving. Auto experts today say that you should warm up the car for no more than 30 seconds, and the engine will warm up faster being driven. It is better for your car AND the environment to turn the engine off and on again as opposed to idling.
Household lighting is important in these dark winter months. If you haven't switched to LED bulbs, now is the time. LED bulbs last much longer than incandescent bulbs, and they put out the same amount of light using significantly less energy. That's great for the environment, and it can save you lots of money in the long-term on your electricity bill. Even though LED bulbs have a larger upfront cost compared to incandescent bulbs, the LED is still the less expensive option after less than a year of use. In the meantime, you'll enjoy less heat production and longer bulb life.
You may be experiencing growing energy bills this winter as we spend more time at home, and heating your home already makes up almost half of the energy used! Investing in a #SmartThermostat is a quick way to conserve energy while you’re sleeping or out for a walk. Also, replacing the furnace filters keeps the furnace working efficiently. ComEd is offering $100 rebates on smart thermostats. Check out ComEd Heating Rebates and Smart Thermostat Rebates at ComEd.com/Rebates for savings in your home.
February 2 is World Wetlands Day. In Northbrook, we are privileged to live at the intersection of three vital ecosystem types (prairies, woodlands, and wetlands). Wetlands native to the Chicago region are home to animals such as beavers, river otters, frogs, turtles, birds, and more. From providing crucial habitat to the filtration and absorption of stormwater, take a moment today to appreciate all that our wetlands have to offer. The Village encourages residents to incorporate wetland plants such as swamp milkweed and blue flag iris (pictured respectively) into your outdoor spaces for a broad range of ecosystem benefits. Visit https://www.northbrook.il.us/868/Water to learn about Northbrook’s rain garden subsidy program.
Soil pollution occurs as a result of improper disposal of waste and can seriously harm our animal cohabitants in Northbrook’s ecosystem. Ever wonder where the turtles and snakes observed in Northbrook’s natural areas go for winter? They hibernate in soil underground! Garter snakes (commonly spotted at Somme Prairie Nature Reserve in the summertime) actually knot themselves together to maintain warmth in groups of sometimes thousands! If you love animals please do your part in preventing littering.
January 5 is National Bird Day! Did you know several owl species come to Illinois from the North to spend the winters? Take advantage of the different ecosystems Northbrook has to offer and try to spot some of the owls that call Illinois home in these winter months. Look for signs of Northern saw-whet owls (left) in Cedar trees and Short-eared owls (right) in open grassland fields. The Great horned owl (middle) is very common in Northbrook, recognizable by the male’s deep hoots for courting in December. By January, the females can be found sitting on their eggs in old squirrel or hawks’ nests high up in trees. Happy birding! Another great way to support native birds is by planting native plants that attract insects, food for our flying friends!
Plan ahead to cut down on waste this gift-giving season by reusing and recycling! Collecting the comics section of the newspaper, especially the colored comics on Sundays, is a great way to reduce and recycle without sacrificing aesthetics. Another option is to use cloth wrapping and encourage the recipient to wash and reuse this outer layer. Remain eco-friendly when you spread holiday cheer this year!
Beyond wearing an extra layer, there a few simple steps to take to conserve energy in heating your home before turning up the thermostat. Indoor air gets drier in winter months, which makes retaining heat more difficult. Humidifiers moisten the air and consequently allow for a better heat conservation. Houseplants are also great humidifiers because they naturally release moisture in the air through a process called evapotranspiration. Another tip is to set a ceiling fan to run clockwise on low speed. This will redistribute hear in your living space. Since warm air rises, the fan’s clockwise rotation will push the heat downward allowing for a more even distribution of heat.
In 2013, the Village and Northbrook Park District partnered to create the Strategic Sustainability Plan, which outlines improvements and initiatives in energy, material management, natural resources, community development and transportation for a more sustainable future.
Make the Pledge to Plant a Tree in NorthbrookGo Green Northbrook is asking the community to take a pledge and plant a tree this May. Take the pledge here.
Keep in mind the location, type of tree, and tree characteristics before planting. Go Green Northbrook provided resources from the Chicago Botanic Garden and Landscape Recycling Center to help you choose the best tree for your yard. Remember to call the Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators (JULIE) at 800-892-0123 or 8-1-1 before you dig in your yard.
Save a tree this Christmas
Show some love for Mother Nature by caring for a live holiday tree rather than a cut one. The Village explains the care and keeping of a potted evergreen tree in this article. With proper conditions, your tree can survive inside to ring in the holiday season. When festivities have ended, the holiday spirit is still alive as you watch your evergreen grow planted outside!