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The Village of Park Forest is leading the way by installing roof and ground-mounted solar arrays at the water treatment plant to reduce its carbon footprint.
Village officials are hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony in mid-September to celebrate the two-year project that has come to fruition. Carrie Malfeo, the sustainability coordinator for the village, says the overall goal is to reduce greenhouse gases and lead by example.
"We adopted our climate action and resilience plan, which we refer to as CARP in late 2019," said Malfeo. "And we have a goal of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2025, from [the] 2010 baseline."
Malfeo says they chose the water treatment facility because it uses the most energy and contributes the most emissions compared to the other village-owned facilities. In addition to saving energy, she says the village will save a lot of money too.
"It's going to save a significant amount of money on the cost of the energy that the water treatment plant consumes on an annual basis," Malfeo said. "It will also pay for itself."
Malfeo adds, "So initially, [residents are] not going to see savings on their water bill per se. But it is utilizing the money that the revenue stream that the village brings in to be more efficient."
As the Earth continues to warm, Malfeo says now is the time to start thinking about green energy. This week alone, places along the West Coast saw record highs, as temperatures soared well above 115 degrees in many locations.
Malfeo says this period is a crucial moment in the fight against global warming.
"It's definitely a decisive decade," said Malfeo. "Time is of the essence. If you're putting money into infrastructure or anything, it should be in renewables, clean energy, and solar."
Malfeo says with recent federal legislation there is a lot of money out there for people and businesses that are thinking about going green. She says residents need to take advantage of those incentives to reduce their energy costs.
To celebrate the project, the village is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the water treatment plant, at 100 Park St.
Malfeo says the event is a great way for residents to see how the village is doing its part by reducing its carbon footprint.
"We'll have YellowLite, our solar company, that was an installer will be there on site," said Malfeo. "They will have a table with a demonstration of how solar works on a small scale."
Malfeo says she would like to see residents come out, celebrate, and see how the village is doing its part in reducing carbon emissions. Additionally, she says people will be able to track real-time production of the solar program and see what kind of impacts like how many trees would be saved, and how much money is going to be saved.