Park District shares report on sustainability initiatives

<p>File photo.</p>

File photo.

In its sixth year, the Naperville Park District’s Green Team recently completed its 2013 Sustainability Report, which is available at http://www.napervilleparks.org/greeninitiatives. The report summarizes the district’s environmental initiatives that are reducing both its environmental impact and operational costs in the following five areas:

Purchasing environmentally responsible products

Protecting natural resources

Conserving energy

Reducing and managing waste

Furthering environmental education

“As a park district, we are committed to demonstrating our ongoing leadership in sustainability, and we look for ways to share what we learn with the community,” said Executive Director Ray McGury.

Some of the environmental initiatives are clearly visible, such as the construction of Knoch Knolls Nature Center. Others are not as obvious, but still impactful.

For example, in 2011 the district installed a 10,000-gallon cistern at Knoch Park, which is underground just north of the playground. During the past two years the cistern collected more than 400,000 gallons of water, which was used to supplement potable water for irrigating athletic fields. As a result, the Park District saved more than $2,700 in water and wastewater costs.

With a steady demand for athletic fields, tennis courts and basketball courts, the Park District relies on sports lighting to extend the hours available at these facilities. Thanks to upgraded technology, sports lighting is more energy efficient than in past years, with flexible controls that allow for additional energy and cost savings. Through new push-button controls for the tennis and basketball court lights at Nike Sports Complex and other locations, in 2013 the district saved 118,373 kilowatt hours in electricity, equivalent to $10,654 in cost savings.

The district realized additional energy and cost savings through the cumulative effect of upgrades in lighting fixtures and controls at the administration building. The 2012-2013 savings totaled 16,621 kilowatt hours and $4,564.

The Park District continued its extensive annual maintenance of natural areas in 2013, managing 46,890 lineal feet of naturalized basin shoreline, 329 acres of woodland, conducting controlled burns of more than 75 acres of prairie, wetland, and other natural areas and planting 430 trees.

More than 500 community volunteers pitched in to help with natural area maintenance, garden plot gleaning, planting and other tasks in 2013. Volunteers came from neighborhoods, schools, corporations, churches and other community organizations. The estimated value of the park volunteers’ time is $11,070 in 2013, according to Independent Sector.

In the summer, the district partnered with Waste Management to offer small electronics recycling at several facilities. From Nov. 18, through March 15, the District held a holiday light recycling collection in partnership with Elgin Recycling. More than 1,176 pounds of nonworking lights were collected for recycling. The district’s cash rebates from recycling will help purchase educational items for the Knoch Knolls Nature Center.

“The 2013 work really sets the stage for the completion of two major projects in 2014 that will bring huge environmental benefits to the community for many years to come: Knoch Knolls Nature Center and Sportsman’s Park remediation and improvements,” McGury said.

Knoch Knolls Nature Center is under construction at 336 Knoch Knolls Road, with many sustainable features planned, including solar panels, a green roof, a cistern for reusing rainwater in the plumbing system, energy-efficient heating and cooling, and natural daylighting.

The site remediation at Sportsman’s Park began in 2013 and will continue this year, followed by park improvements that will provide public access to open space in the downtown area as well as maintaining the limited hours of trapshooting.

The Naperville Park District recently was recognized for its environmental initiatives with the 2013 Sustainable Development Award by The Conservation Foundation.

For more information about the Naperville Park District and its facilities and programs, visit www.napervilleparks.org.

Courtesy of the Naperville Park District.

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