Environmental Sustainability in Northbrook

Northbrook's Climate Action Plan

Northbrook's Climate Action Plan (CAP) is Northbrook's mission to reduce carbon emissions and foster a sustainable community for all. This is a Village-wide goal of 35% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 80% by 2040, in alignment with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and LEED for Cities. The Village Board adopted the Climate Action Plan and established a Sustainability Commission on August 10, 2021.  Learn more.


Leaf Blower Regulations Working Group

The Village of Northbrook, along with neighboring municipalities, participates in a Leaf Blower Working Group to study the impacts of gas-powered leaf blowers, alternative technologies, and how communities can mitigate the impacts of these devices. Click here for more details.

Timely Tips for Going Green: Fall 2022

Are your Jack-O-Lanterns no longer looking gourd-geous? Don’t send them to the landfill! This spooky season, stop by the Village’s Pumpkin Smash event on Sunday, November 6, from noon-3pm at Northbrook Court's parking lot. Community members can toss pumpkins for composting, play games, meet some creepy crawlers, and learn about the benefits of organic waste recycling. Snacks will be provided.

sad jack o lantern

Are you uncertain about what is recyclable and where to recycle it? When done properly, recycling helps to conserve resources and protect the environment. 

At the October 19 “Recycle Right” webinar, representatives from Waste Management and the Village of Northbrook will provide information and answer your questions. Register now: https://visit.northbrook.info/event/6716457


Did you know that leaf blowers disrupt the local ecosystem and food chain for wildlife? When we blow leaves off our properties and bag them up for disposal, we are throwing away the source of shelter and overwintering habitat for important pollinators like dragonflies and bees. 
For best practices towards a more sustainable Northbrook, consider raking leaves into your garden beds this fall. The leaves will provide insulation and break down into nature’s best fertilizer for your plants.leaf blower

Timely Tips for Going Green: Summer 2022

Use the arrows to scroll through most recent social media posts pertaining to sustainability in Northbrook.

The Village has launched a voluntary Lights Out Northbrook campaign where community members commit to leaving their lights off after 11pm each night from now until November 15. Participants will receive a free native seed packet by registering with the Village Sustainability Coordinator.

This movement is part of a larger effort to protect the rare migratory birds that pass through Northbrook during fall, such as the ones pictured. Researchers believe that exterior lights on buildings confuse the navigation systems of birds leading them to circle buildings repeatedly and die of exhaustion or collision. 

Email tessa.murray@northbrook.il.us with your address to collect your free native seed packet. Call 847-664-4134 with any questions.

scarlet tanager

Have you heard that it uses more fuel to turn your engine off and on compared to letting the car idle for a short period of time? This myth has been debunked!

The US Department of Energy reports that idling for over seven seconds uses more fuel and produces more emissions that contribute to smog and climate change than stopping and restarting your engine does. So next time you’re waiting in a school pickup line or stopped in the drive-thru, please don’t idle! Poor air quality caused by tailpipe emissions can contribute to asthma in adults and especially children, whose lungs are more susceptible to damage.


West Cook Wild Ones is offering a free trade-in for Cook County residents that have invasive shrubs growing on their property! If you’re looking to replace invasive plants like Buckthorn or Barberry with a native shrub species, take photos for documentation, cut it down, and apply. Find more information and the online application here.


Interested in installing rooftop solar but don’t know where to start? The Village is partnering with the Library and Grow Solar Chicagoland to offer a virtual Solar Power Hour on Thursday, August 25, at 7pm. In this hour-long presentation you’ll learn the basics of solar, how it can save you money, and how the solar group-buy program works. At the end of the presentation, participants will be eligible to receive a free, no-obligation property assessment for a custom quote from competitively-selected solar installers. Register now!


Let’s get connected! Metra’s new $100 “Super Saver” monthly pass and $30 Regional Connect Pass are available for purchase starting today in the Ventra App and Metra ticket sales agents! Unlimited rides and connectivity services on all three systems for $130 a month (MetraChicago Transit Authority, and Pace Suburban Bus). Riding public transit in and around Northbrook just got easier. Learn more: https://metra.com/regional-connect-pass


Trying to conserve water this summer? These free water-saving kits from Nicor Gas offer products that can help, including low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators and a shower timer. For details or to order, visit http://nicorgas.com/.../free-products-and-services.html


Join us in celebrating National Pollinator Week! Pollinator species such as birds and insects are essential partners for food-growers, and pollination plays an important role in maintaining the health and biodiversity of our ecosystems. 
Sustainable practices such as planting natives, decreased pesticide usage, and leaving fallen leaves in garden beds are all examples of how we can support pollinators. Residents with pollinator-friendly yards can pick up a free garden sign from Village Hall by contacting the Village Sustainability Coordinator at 847 664 4134 or by email at tessa.murray@northbrook.il.us.

Pollinator Sig

Are you interested in electric vehicles? Starting today, Illinois residents can apply for a $4,000 rebate after purchasing an electric vehicle. Learn more about the program here: https://www2.illinois.gov/.../Electric-Vehicle-Rebates.aspx 


Timely Tips for Going Green: Spring 2022

Growing your own food is good for your health, budget, and the environment! Join the Village of Northbrook as we begin free workshops on eco-friendly vegetable gardening, provided by local business The Organic Gardener, Ltd.

The new “Grow Northbrook” garden, located between Village Hall and Library, will educate the community on how to grow healthy and sustainable food as part of our Climate Action Plan. Leftover harvest will be sent to the Northfield Township Food Pantry.

Hands-on educational opportunities are available every other Tuesday from 2-3pm starting June 14. Register here: https://visit.northbrook.info/event/6758813

Grow Northbrook

Electricity prices have increased significantly within Illinois over the past year due to higher wholesale fuel supply costs, regional power plant retirements, and increased demand. Beginning June 2022, consumers across the state will see higher electricity supply-based costs reflected in their utility rates.

ComEd rates are estimated to increase approximately 15 to 25 percent from the previous year. Click the following link to view ComEd's current rates and tariffs: https://www.comed.com/.../pages/currentratestariffs.aspx

If you are part of the municipal aggregation purchasing program, the rate that you pay is equal to the monthly ComEd published tariff rates. There is no risk of paying more than you would otherwise pay as a ComEd customer. 

Want to save money on your ComEd bill and support local renewable energy? Check out the Village’s community solar program! 


solar elec

 Happy Arbor Day! For our commitment to effective urban forest management, the Village of Northbrook has been named a Tree City USA community by the Arbor Day Foundation for the 28th consecutive year! We are also pleased to announce that the Village received a Tree City USA Growth Award for the 22nd year in a row for demonstrating environmental improvement and a higher level of tree care. 
Get more information on the Tree City USA program at www.arborday.org/programs/treecityusa/.

Arbor Day

 Northbrook is one of over 60 sites coming together on Saturday, May 14, from 9am to noon to celebrate the river and help clean it up. Join Northbrook's Sustainability Commission at Chipilly Woods: park on Dell Road and Midway Road if driving, and meet at Midway Road and Sunset Ridge Road. Don’t forget to bring gloves and dress for the weather! 

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) recently issued recommendations on wild birds and a strain of avian influenza currently impacting some wild and domestic bird species. While the strain has not been detected in songbird species, IDNR recommends ceasing the use of bird feeders and bird baths through May, or until infections subside, especially those in which waterfowl may visit. It is unlikely that hummingbird or oriole feeders will contribute to the spread.  

Bird Bowl

The Earth Day Recycling Event was a hit! Almost 750 vehicles turned up to drop off hard-to-recycle items: 555 gallon barrels of light bulbs, 1.5 20-yard dumpsters worth of electronics, and over 100 pounds of batteries were all diverted from landfills through the event. To add to it, the Village gave out 180 shrubs - way to grow! 

2022 Earth Day

Early spring is when endangered rusty patch bumblebee queens are found emerging from the underground overwintering locations in Northbrook. At this time, access to early-blooming wildflowers is important so that queen bees have enough energy to grow their colonies! The opportunity to establish beneficial insect populations (like our native bumblebees) is drastically reduced with early spring leaf litter removal and grass mowing. 

That’s why at the April 12 Village Board Meeting, President Ciesla announced that up until June 1, 2022, the Village of Northbrook is suspending enforcement of the Municipal Code for excessive grass height and is permitting all residents to participate in our "No Mow" initiative to voluntarily delay mowing. This practice will allow pollinators to emerge and early-flowering grasses and forbs to establish, which may result in ground-cover exceeding the established ordinance height restrictions of eight inches. Learn more: https://www.northbrook.il.us/1056/No-Mow-May 

Bee on Dandelion

A big thank you to everyone who attended our Earth Month Kickoff event in partnership with Somme Woods Community this past Sunday! More than fifty volunteers took part in important habitat restoration work such as invasive brush control and seeding the forest floor with rare plant species. Event participants were even able to see some forest inhabitants up close and personal- a redbelly snake and blue-spotted salamander! Let’s keep the spirit of local climate action alive throughout April - visit northbrook.il.us/1041/Earth-Month  for upcoming events.

Somme Volunteers

Happy Earth Day, Northbrook! Join us in celebrating by doing what you can for our planet, whether it's a small change of habit or just learning about climate efforts. Here are some things to try out:
• Compost food scraps and organic waste
• Cut down on short car trips by biking or walking when you can
• Plant native species to encourage pollinators and wildlife
• Make energy efficient, eco-conscious upgrades to your home when replacing appliances
• Repair and reuse materials before recycling
• Use your voice to support environmental advocacy and awareness campaigns
• Educate yourself on climate change impacts. Read the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report 
From individual behavior change to larger community initiatives, every choice matters! What can you to make every day Earth Day?

Earth Day

Give the gift of greenery! Did you know that you can order a parkway tree for a neighbor, family member, or friend in Northbrook? 
Community members who want to put in a parkway tree for a neighbor can do so by filling out the Parkway Tree Order form for them. Your neighbor can either attach a note to the order form or write directly on the order form saying that they agree to have the tree planted on the parkway in front of their house. 
Orders are due on Thursday, April 7. Contact the Village Forester at terry.cichocki@northbrook.il.us with questions.

Waste Management has resumed weekly landscape waste and compost pickup.
🟩 Sticker Program: Stickers are $2.12 each and can be purchased at Village Hall and local grocery and home/garden stores. Acceptable items may be placed in paper lawn bags or metal/plastic cans and put out on your regular collection day for pick up. Residents using plastic/metal containers must label each container as "YARD WASTE ONLY." Free labels are available at Village Hall.
🟩 Subscription Program: With a subscription, Waste Management will collect unlimited yard waste and compost year-round, weekly from April 1-November 30 and every other week from December 1-March 31. Residents can select a 35-gallon or 95-gallon container. Overflow yard waste and organics can be placed in plastic/metal containers or paper lawn bags for no extra charge. 
Spring cleaning the sustainable way! Stop by the Village of Northbrook's Earth Month Recycling Event on Saturday, April 23, 9am-noon, at the West Metra Station Commuter Lot. Residents can drive through and drop off any of the following items with our Public Works staff members: 
▪️ Paint (oil/latex only, no thinners or solvents, ten gal. limit)
▪️ Molded Styrofoam
▪️ Tires (max of four) 
▪️ Printer Cartridges
▪️ CFL, LED, and Tube Fluorescent Bulbs
▪️ Computers, TVs, Other Electronics 
▪️ New/ Used Household Goods and Clothing 
▪️ Residential Document Shredding (three bag limit)
▪️ Household Batteries
▪️ Bicycles
🌳 Bonus: The Village's Sustainability Coordinator will be giving away tree saplings. 
Thank you to our partners at ComEd, Northfield Township, Working Bikes, and Simple Recycling.
Did you know that the average faucet flows at a rate of 2 gallons per minute? You can save up to four gallons of water every morning by turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth! 
The Village of Northbrook is taking part in the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, and we need your help to make our community more "water wise." In honor of #WorldWaterDay today, take a minute of your time and go to www.mywaterpledge.com/ to pledge to save our planet's most valuable natural resource!


Good news: Northfield Township Road District's Recycling Program is resuming for the year on Monday, April 4! The program will run weekdays through October 28 from 7am-3pm at 237 Melvin Drive in Northbrook. This is for Northfield Township residents only - IDs will be checked to confirm residency. 
Visit Northfield Township's website to see what can and can't be recycled and to check out the dates for paper shredding and hazardous household waste collection events: https://www.northfieldtownship.com/recycling-program.html


How often do you ask yourself "can I recycle this?" In a sample mix of Northbrook’s household recycling waste, Waste Management found that 17% of materials collected were contaminated with items that cannot be recycled!
Being a steward for the environment means you care about where the products you consume come from and where they end up. At the point of purchase, considering whether or not the packaging of something is reusable or recyclable may help inform responsible waste habits.
The useful guide pictured below contains information specific to Northbrook’s recycling programs and common contaminants. Enlarge or download it here: https://www.northbrook.il.us/.../View/5352/Recycling-Guide

recycling guide

Kick off Earth Month by volunteering! Meet in the Somme Woods parking lot on Sunday, April 3, at 9am for a morning of restoration and invasive buckthorn brush-cutting. Be ready to get your hands dirty and dress appropriately. RSVP at sommepreserve@gmail.com. Village Sustainability Coordinator Tessa Murray will be providing native seed packets to event participants. 


Timely Tips for Going Green: Winter 2022

March 7-13 is Food Waste Action Week! Composting food scraps reduces methane generated from rotting food in landfills. Landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane in the country. It is of the utmost importance to curb methane emissions because this gas is much more potent when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere, as compared to carbon dioxide. 

Northbrook provides food scrap composting through organics collection with Waste Management. Beyond this, residents can also facilitate compost piles in their own backyards. 

Learn more about Waste Management's organics collection at https://www.northbrook.il.us/829/Refuse-Recycling-Services.


Could you use some tips on getting your bike ready for Spring or are you a cyclist who needs a little more “know-how”? Register in advance to join us at the library on Thursday, March 17 at 7pm. https://visit.northbrook.info/event/5986843 

Members of the Pedestrian & Bike Commission will share tips and answer questions about biking around Northbrook.

bike banter

February 28 through March 4 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Illinois. In addition to preparing and reviewing your weather safety plans, it's important to know the difference between a "storm watch" and a "storm warning." In true Chicagoland fashion, hot dogs are involved 🌭
🟨 Watch: We have the ingredients to make hot dogs (no ketchup please).
🟥 Warning: We are having hot dogs...right now!

watch warning

Keep an eye on your mailbox for "The Green Issue" of the Village's Northbrook Voice newsletter 🍃 This edition, covering March and April, celebrates sustainability and features Northbrook's own green stewards from Friends of the Somme Preserves! Also read about the Village's Earth Month celebrations, recycling opportunities, tree giveaways, and important announcements and reminders. 

Get your grow on! Plots are open at the Temple Beth-El Community Garden location, 3610 Dundee Road. Interested residents can sign up by contacting the community garden coordinator at brianbrucesr@sbcglobal.net. 

community garden plot

Plant a new tree on the parkway in front of your home and share the cost with us! The Village of Northbrook is pleased to offer residents an opportunity to participate in the annual Spring Parkway Tree Planting Program. 
Choose from a diverse selection of ten different trees, and the Village will provide and install the tree(s) for $175 each. Orders are due on Thursday, April 7. Get more information and fill out the order form here: https://www.northbrook.il.us/.../Parkway-Tree-Planting...
Note that trees may not be ordered for private property. For any questions, contact Village Forester Terry Cichocki at terry.cichocki@northbrook.il.us.

oak tree

How did the Village Hall rain garden go from barren to beautiful in just one year’s time? It takes a Village! Such amazing growth would not have occurred without the helping hands of Northbrook Trustees, members of the Farmers Market, Garden Club, and GoGreen Northbrook. Check out this progress update report from Northbrook’s Sustainability Coordinator to learn more.

before after rain garden

On 2/17 at 1pm, local conservation group Monarchs, Milkweed, and More is teaming up with Village Sustainability Coordinator Tessa Murray to present information on the endangered rusty patch bumble bee and what we can do to help. Email monarchsmilkweedandmore@gmail.com for the link to register for this virtual meeting.

Bees Please

The Village contracts with Simple Recycling to provide free year-round textile recycling to residents. For 2022, they updated how to arrange pickups. Pickups are no longer determined by a resident's curbside recycling day and instead must be scheduled in advance. Here are two options available for residents:
-Go to Simple Recycling's website at https://simplerecycling.com/ and enter your zip code. The system will then provide an option of available upcoming days to schedule a pickup. Once scheduled, you will receive a confirmation of the pickup and a reminder email the day prior.
-You may call Simple Recycling Customer Service to schedule a pickup at 866-835-5068. 
What can you recycle through Simple Recycling?
• Textiles: clothing, bags, hats, toys, blankets, curtains, pillows
• Other: jewelry, shoes, tools, silverware, dishes, pots/pans

We've all probably heard of the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle.” But have you heard about the other two “Rs”? The Five Rs are guiding principles for reducing the waste we output. A great way to “refuse, reduce, reuse” before items ever get to the “recycle” stage is through the Northbrook Free Box Facebook Group. The Free Box idea is to borrow before buying and share before selling. Post anything you'd like to give away, lend, or share among neighbors. Ask for anything you'd like to receive for free or borrow. The group page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1582898475094120  

Given the hardiness and adaptability of native plants to our area, there’s always a native plant suited to your outdoor space! 
To encourage a sustainable Northbrook, the Village is providing the pamphlet pictured below to help you choose the right native plant based on specific site conditions. Because most native seeds need a period of cold stratification to germinate, now is a great time to start seeding! Download a PDF of the pamphlet here. 

Native List Pamphlet Trifold_2

Northbrook’s Climate Action Plan calls to reduce our contribution to landfill waste. While recycling is an important step to manage this, zero waste lifestyle practices go beyond resource recovery to help address the larger issues of climate change and conservation. 
Learn about practical tips to reduce waste, save money, and address climate change in daily life at Zero Waste 101 (Virtual) on Wednesday, January 19, from 7-8pm. This event, hosted by the Northbrook Public Library in partnership with Go Green Northbrook, will be held live on Zoom. Register in advance at https://visit.northbrook.info/event/5902843


Public Works was here! Have you seen these lines on streets around Northbrook? That means the Village's Public Works Department has pre-treated the road with a beet juice/salt brine blend. The pre-treating mixture prevents snow and ice from accumulating on the street and therefore contributes to less salt being used - by about 30%! 
Rock salt is of great concern for river life as it's toxic to fish, plants, and other aquatic life. Consider using your own salt brine at home to lessen the amount of harmful rock salt being used in Northbrook.

de-icing beet tracks

 How long do you leave your decorations up? For those that hang on past the New Year, today is National Take Down The Christmas Tree Day! 
Also, this month Waste Management is accepting real trees, garland, and wreaths for recycling on your regular pickup day. Remove all lights and decorations, and make sure your organic items are easily accessible at the curb.

holiday decorations

´The state recently reopened its solar funding program, in which the state provides a monetary incentive for renewable energy credits generated over a solar installation’s first 15 or 20 years of operation. Many different project types are eligible, however interested parties can only apply for funding through approved vendors. Learn more at https://www.northbrook.il.us/1032/Solar-Initatives 


January 5 is National Bird Day. A rare bird spotted in Northbrook backyards is the red-headed wood pecker. They have a wide range in diet, from fruits and nuts to bugs, small rodents, and eggs.
Fun Fact: This striking bird was a favorite of early ornithologists such as Audubon!

Bird with red head on a dead tree branch

Although cozying up in a blanket or snuggling with the family pet are some of the ways to stay warm, another way is with Nicor Gas free weatherization kits! Nicor customers can order up to two free kits today to seal any air leaks that could be creating a chill and costing you on your heating bill. https://bit.ly/2P9Wbf1


Northbrook is grateful to partner with ComEd for participation in their Energy Efficiency Program! The Village received incentives incentives to complete LED fixture and light conversions at four Village facilities. This will reduce the Village’s kilowatt hour usage by an estimated 548,863 kilowatt hours per year, which is equivalent to 84.6 passenger vehicles being taken off the road!

In addition to energy savings from the increased efficiency, the new LED lights will also be set to dim themselves down automatically based on detection of motion activity or if there is enough natural light coming in through the windows.

ComEd’s Energy Efficiency Program, which is funded in compliance with State law, offers incentives, rebates, discounts and recycling opportunities to assist customers in conserving energy and saving money as a result. See resident or business discounts online: www.comed.com/WaysToSave  

comed lighting

During the month of January, recycle your organic holiday tree by placing it at the curb on your recycling day. Remove all lights, garland, and decorations, and make sure your tree is easily accessible at the curb.

Please note that dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in your home or garage or be placed outside against your home. 

tree recycling

Looking for a sustainable way to get rid of old or broken toys? Northbrook offers used toy recycling bins in the lobby of Village Hall at 1225 Cedar Lane. Accepted items are anything used for play, including electronic toys. This includes toy pieces, game boards, packaging from board games, books with sound, handheld electronic games and players, remote control vehicles, electronic stuffed animals, building sets, and stuffed animals. Terracycle separates materials for refurbishing and reuse. 

UPDATE: Our toy recycling program has reached capacity and is no longer available. Thanks to all who contributed!

toy recycling

The Northbrook Public Library solidified its commitment to sustainability through adopting Northbrook's Climate Action Plan! Located in the lobby across from the elevators, you can drop off the following items to recycle next time you’re visiting:
♻️ Batteries
♻️ Eyeglasses
♻️ Phones
♻️ Empty snack & candy wrappers
♻️ Unusable pens, pencils, markers, and glue sticks
♻️ Used toothbrushes, empty toothpaste tubes & dental floss containers

Library Recycle Bins

Are you twiddling your green thumb looking for an opportunity to get outside as winter sets in? The colder months are a great time of year to tackle invasive buckthorn that is a large threat to our native ecosystem. Get involved with Somme Woods Community restoration workdays, or learn about buckthorn identification and control procedures in your own backyard at http://ow.ly/PvsR30rAtbt 

Somme Woods Burn

While waiting to pick up food or goods from Northbrook businesses, remember to turn off your vehicle's engine. Idling produces harmful emissions that contribute to smog and climate change. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than stopping and restarting your engine! 


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:

  1. Climate
  2. EnergyGRCLOGO
  3. Leadership
  4. Economic Development
  5. Municipal Operations
  6. Water
  7. Land
  8. Mobility
  9. Sustainable Communities
  10. Waste & Recycling

Sustainability Framework 

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.