The environment always is a hot topic issue, grabbing headlines and making people aware of how their choices affect the world that they will leave behind for the next generation. I’m proud to say that for many years the village of Montgomery has been a leader in implementing conservation initiatives with the goal of being a good steward and setting an example that current and future generations can be proud of.
Since 2007, Montgomery has been part of the Greenest Region Compact, which encourages municipalities to reduce energy consumption, advance renewable energy, promote community trees and conserve water resources. Energy efficient buildings, urban forestry initiative and preserving and donating the Dickson-Murst Farm to The Conservation Foundation are a few of the village’s unique accomplishments in this area, and staff continues to look for additional ways to reduce our environmental footprint.
Beginning last year, the community development department took the initiative to begin to facilitate the usage of solar energy in Montgomery. In May, because of their efforts, the village was honored with the SolSmart Gold Designation in recognition of its meeting official criteria and adopting solar best practices. This, along with a Solar Forum the village hosted in the spring, has jump-started an interest in solar power in Montgomery and assisted 85 households in installing solar panels since that time.
This fall, you will notice public works team members beginning the laborious task of outfitting Montgomery’s streetlight fixtures to accept LED bulbs, which are up to 50% more energy efficient than traditional sodium bulbs and can last 15 to 20 years. Montgomery received a $14,000 grant from ComEd to help offset the cost of the initial phase of this project.
During the winter months, you will see public works plowing snow and applying road salt, also known as sodium chloride. The village has adopted several sensible salting practices that have resulted in a reduction of the quantity of salt and additives that are used to keep our roads safe. These procedures have resulted in a 40% reduction in the amount of road salt used, which saves money and helps the environment. Sodium chloride affects water quality by washing into lakes, streams or groundwater supplies, and also can affect the environment by running off into the soil, harming trees and vegetation. Our reduced salt usage significantly reduces our environmental footprint.
In addition, an electric vehicle charging station soon will be installed in front of the Montgomery Village Hall in collaboration with Kane County, which is providing the charging station and the village is providing the funding for installation. While electric or hybrid vehicles are still in the minority, they are the hope of the future, since carbon dioxide emissions contribute to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and accelerate climate change. Electric vehicles don’t release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when you drive them, and hybrid cars use their battery to greatly improve the distance you can travel. The electric charging station will allow individuals with electric vehicles to charge/refuel them at Village Hall. Expanding the network of available charging stations available will, in turn, increase the likelihood of electric vehicles expanding within the automobile market.
All year long, the village of Montgomery proactively seeks additional ways to be a leader in sustainability and sound stewardship of our environment. As our efforts continue, future projects may include initiatives such as offering curbside electronics recycling, updating to LED bulbs and exploring electric vehicle purchases. We invite everyone in the community to examine their own choices and seek ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
• Matt Brolley is Montgomery village president.