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    Northbrook Park District partners with ComEd to boost efficiencyEffort could result in saving over $135,000 a year on electric bills


    August 11, 2022 - Brian L. Cox

     

      How many Northbrook Park District employees does it take to change a light bulb?

      None, thanks to an "energy efficiency effort" that could save the district more than $135,000 a year on its overall electricity bills while allowing it to qualify for more than $900,000 in incentives, said Chris Leiner, the district's director of parks and properties.

      Since August 2019, the district has collaborated with ComEd to replace light fixtures with new, reliable, resilient and energy-efficient LED fixtures at eight separate district locations, Leiner said.

      He said that once completed, the project could save the district nearly 3.8 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year, which is the amount of energy it takes to power nearly 450 ComEd customers' homes, and that the savings will have an environmental benefit equal to reducing more than 3.2 million pounds of carbon emissions from the atmosphere, planting nearly 1,800 acres of trees or removing more than 300 cars from the road.

      "It's pretty exciting for us," Leiner said. "That's a lot of light bulbs."

      He said the energy upgrade is made possible by ComEd's "Energy Efficiency

      Program," which the utility said has saved northern Illinois families and businesses approximately $7 billion on their electric bills since 2008.

      Leiner said the energy saving projects at the Park District fit with the district's mission of "environmental and financial stewardship." He also said that in addition to the current replacement projects at district parks and facilities, the district has benefited from other energy efficiency grants from ComEd at Heritage Oaks Golf Club and Techny Prairie Activity Center (TPAC), a newly verified net zero energy facility with 833 solar panels on the roof and highly efficient mechanicals.

      "We want to be able to reallocate those operating dollars to more forward facing operations that more align with our mission," Leiner said. "People aren't typically excited about paying energy bills."

      "You look at the projected savings and that's basically allowing us enough energy savings to do a park renovation every three years or to replace a playground," he added.

      According to ComEd, its "Energy Efficiency Program" is one of the largest programs in the nation offering residents, businesses and the public sector a variety of options that help them cut back on their energy use, which reduces energy bills and helps the environment. In addition to saving customers $7 billion on their energy bills, the program helped customers save nearly 65 million megawatt-hours of electricity, which is enough energy to power more than 7.4 million ComEd customers' homes for one year. The program has also helped reduce from the air nearly 55 billion pounds of carbon emissions that contribute to climate change, which is the equivalent of removing more than 5.4 million cars off the road for one year or planting more than 30 million acres of trees.

      "In Illinois, energy efficiency is a key component to achieving climate targets while reducing household costs, decreasing emissions and improving indoor air quality and resiliency," Stacey Paradis, executive director of the Midwest Energy Efficiency Association, said in a release. "It is great to see ComEd working with local governments to reduce energy bills which, in turn, saves their taxpayers money."

      Leiner said the "energy efficiency effort" will have a positive impact on the district's capital and operating budgets.

      "We've actually completed a number of sites in the district and we're working on completing a number of additional ones," he said.

      Brian L. Cox is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

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