Sustainability Through The Greenest Region Compact
The Greenest Region Compact (GRC) promotes sustainability in communities around the Chicago region with an emphasis on building strong and vibrant communities. The Compact addresses ten areas: climate, economic development, energy, land, leadership, mobility, municipal operations, sustainable communities, water, and waste and recycling. The GRC guides the more than 70 participating municipalities towards sustainable goals and actions and encourages communities to work together to create a sustainable region.
In Winnetka, the GRC2 was adopted by municipal resolution R-23-2018 (PDF) on April 3, 2018.
Sustainability Focus Areas
- Economic Development
- Municipal Operations
- Sustainable Communities
- Waste & Recycling
The overall objective is to reduce air pollution in and near Winnetka. Given the increasing need for clean air, it is importance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. The Village enforces a no-idling policy for Village-owned trucks and equipment as well as employs strategic placement of no idling signage in commuter areas. The Village holds status as an Illinois Green Fleets Community through having and supporting environmentally friendly vehicles and fuels to improve air quality. The Village also enforces a gas-powered leaf blower ban during the summer. Details of goals and activities are found on the GRC2 Climate and Energy Goals pages.
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- Maintain clean and healthful air
- Develop resiliency to climate change impacts
- Engage the community in climate change mitigation and adaptation
The Village is divided into three main commercial districts: Central Business District, Hubbard Woods and Indian Hill. The Village employs a full-time Economic Development Coordinator that serves as a facilitator between the Village and businesses. The Village promotes local goods and regularly supports and advertises Shop Local and Small Business Saturday initiatives. The Green Awards program recognizes businesses that practice and promote sustainability while working to attract and attain similar businesses. Details of goals and activities are found on the GRC2 Economic Goals pages.
Economic Development Goals
- Promote innovation and a competitive workforce
- Cultivate local and sustainable development, jobs, and businesses
The overall objective is to reduce energy consumption and advance the use of renewable energy sources
in Winnetka. Village-owned buildings are regularly undergo LED lighting upgrades and are equipped with motion sensors for lighting. The Village is an active member of the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (IMEA) and utilizes available funding through IMEA’s Energy Efficiency Upgrade rebate program. The Village offers a rebate program to residents for the installation of NEST thermostats. The Village also recognizes residents and businesses in the community that show an exceptional commitment to sustainability practices through its annual Green Awards program. Details of goals and activities are found on the GRC2 Climate and Energy Goals pages.
- Use energy for buildings and facilities efficiently
- Advance renewable energy
- Reduce energy consumption
- Enact policies that support clean energy
- Engage the community in clean energy practices
This category pertains to the preservation of the land use patterns and natural environment that provide the Village-like ambiance of Winnetka. Land use patterns are defined by the transitions between types and densities of occupation which are controlled by zoning. However the natural environment is defined some form of ecologically balanced, publically accessible open space, green and blue, will provide the foundation for sustainable activity. These built and natural considerations overlap with Economic Development, Sustainable Communities, and Water. Details of goals and activities are found on the GRC2 Land Goals pages.
- Encourage strategic development that upholds sustainability principles
- Conserve, restore and enhance natural features and ecosystems
- Support networks of accessible well-used and enjoyable parks
- Sustain a robust urban forest canopy
- Sustain beautiful landscapes that provide ecosystem services
- Achieve greater livability through sustainable land use and housing policies
- Cultivate a conservation ethic in the community
This category pertains to the support of the GRC2 through regional, state and national collaboration. The Village is an active member of the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County, Northwest Municipal Conference and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. The Village also works in partnership with the Winnetka Park District though various efforts. The Village encourages and supports environmentally friendly practices when possible. Details of goals and activities are found on the GRC2 Leadership Goals pages.
- Enlist support for GRC2 goals through regional, state and national leadership
- Advocate for policies that align with and advance the GRC2
- Work collaboratively towards a sustainable region
The Village supports safe and effective transportation through a diverse and efficient transportation network. The Village offers various public transportation methods including three train stations, intersecting bus routes and an interstate highway less than one mile west of the Village. The Village also features a segment of the bike-friendly Green Bay Trail and supports bicycle use throughout the Village. The Village maintains its own roadways and regularly collaborates with IDOT and Cook County. Details of goals and activities are found on the GRC2 Mobility Goals pages.
- Support safe and effective active transportation
- Maintain a diverse, safe, and efficient transportation network
- Support efficient transportation that uses resources wisely
- Integrate sustainability into transportation policies, programs, and regulations
- Promote public and sustainable transportation choices
Village municipal services are divided into Village, Schools, Park, and Library boards and functions. The Village board provides life safety, transportation, water, and waste infrastructure. Winnetka also provides electrical power to the Village through the Illinois Municipal Energy Agency. A Village life-style is provided through a high performing municipal operation governed by a Village Manager and elected Trustees. Sustainable life styles are encouraged through ordinance, pricing, education, and expenditure of Village funds to facilitate stewardship and conservation. The Village has a standing Environmental and Forestry Commission with a dedicated staff liaison. The Village operates a safe, clean and efficient fleet through its in-house fleet services division and has in place an anti-idling policy for Village-owned vehicles. Details of goals and activities are found on the GRC2 Municipal Goals pages.
Municipal Operations Goals
- Lead by demonstrating sustainable values and practices
- Integrate sustainability into all municipal operations
- Operate a safe, clean and efficient fleet
- Collect and manage data to advance sustainability
The Village supports a sustainable food culture through its local farmers market. The Village is committed to preserving and maintaining its historic assets through its Landmark Preservation Commission, while supporting culture and art through its annual Music Festival. The Winnetka Community House and the Winnetka Park District promote health and wellness through their various youth programs. The Village also promotes beauty and livability in community design through its Design Review Board and strict permitting process. Go Green Winnetka engages residents in sustainability initiatives through an environmentally-focused citizen advisory group. Details of goals and activities are found on the GRC2 sustainable Communities Goals pages.
Sustainable Communities Goals
- Promote cultural vibrancy in the community
- Foster a culture of health, safety, and wellness
- Increase access to sustainably grown local food
- Sustain community principles that are welcoming, inclusive and equitable
- Promote a sustainable identity for the community
- Ensure local policies and codes support sustainability
- Cultivate community values based on principles of sustainability
Waste & Recycling
Sustainable activity must include reduction, reuse and recycling of materials. So far the Village has focused principally on recycling through its contract with Lakeshore Recycling Systems and its partnership with the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County. While recycling refers to all materials, it is helpful to separate solid waste from water. Water recycling is controlled by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District through its treatment of waste water and regulation of water that may returned to Lake Michigan or the North Branch of the Chicago River. Reduction of solid waste within Winnetka is facilitated through separate collection of recycled materials from solid waste. Separation and collection of food waste is becoming of increasing interest. Recycling is encouraged through ordinance, pricing, education, and expenditure of Village funds. The Village operates its own in-house refuse collection services, in which operations are regularly assessed. The Village also hosts a weekly electronics recycling drop-off program for residents and offers special recycling programs for materials such as Styrofoam, CFL bulbs and batteries. Details of goals and activities are found on the GRC2 Waste and Recycling Goals pages.
Waste & Recycling Goals
- Support sustainable material management
- Recycle materials across all sectors
- Divert waste from landfills
- Enact policies that cause sustainable material management
- Engage the community in waste reduction and recycling
The overall objective is to reduce pollution of the water in and near to Winnetka. One of the most
valuable resources to Winnetka is Lake Michigan, which we drink and in which we recreate. Water shed by Winnetka as waste or storm water runoff will become increasingly scrutinized and regulated to reduce pollution and increase sustainability of the region. Given the increasing need for clean drinking water, it is important to reduce consumption and reduce pollution of the storm water. Winnetka benefits from separate sanitary and storm water sewer systems which reduces the complexity of pollution reduction. While the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District both treats the sanitary waste and regulates encroachment of the flood plain to control flooding, Winnetka may enforce more strict storm water regulations. Details of goals and activities are found on the GRC2 Water Goals pages.
- Use and distribute water efficiently
- Protect and improve and water quality
- Manage water system assets sustainably
- Optimize the use of natural and built systems to manage stormwater
- Practice stewardship of water resources
- Enact policies to protect water resources
- Engage the community in water stewardship
Strategy : Process & Context
The Village Council has given the Winnetka Environmental and Forestry Commission a broad mandate to assist the Village in disseminating information about environmental and forestry matters and to make recommendations concerning policies the Village might adopt. The specific charges are contained in the enabling ordinance establishing the Commission.
The Village of Winnetka is a small municipality and many solutions to environmental issues may well be better handled at the national, regional, state or other levels of government. Accordingly, the Commission focuses its resources on local solutions which can have an impact and to take advantage of expertise available from many sources and the synergies which can be achieved through partnering with other organizations and municipalities.
Projects to induce a sustainable life style should be ranked according to their potential to produce the greatest change for Winnetka with the least effort. While focusing on this ratio of “Benefit-Cost” can lead to an over emphasis of small change with very small efforts, project choice should not ignore necessary large but difficult changes.
Any comparison is dependent upon the same initial step: identification of a critical aspect of that desired, which can be measured. Measures may be multiple and complicated. Environmental issues are challenging because many involve complex, long-term economic transfers and complex chemical interaction. Thus they require detailed study that includes economics, chemistry, physics & biology, as well as public behavior.
A simple process of determining benefit to cost ratio of changing or greening Winnetka life style can be summarized with a series of five questions:
- Change: What is the resource or activity to change?
- Benefit: What is the measurable benefit?
- Method: Are there mechanisms that can be adopted or expenditures made by the Village to alter the activity or resource?
- Cost: What is the identifiable cost?
- Response: What is the public and staff response to the proposed mechanism or expenditure?