Climate change is a huge issue for me. I’ve always been interested in environmentalism and even changed my career from primary care medicine to the little-known field of occupational and environmental medicine. I consider myself a climate change “panicker” which isn’t actually a word but definitely describes me. I want to do everything
I can in my position as a trustee to make sure Oak Park village government is leading in climate change mitigation and prevention. Let me outline for you what I’ve done so far and what I hope to do in my next term:
Created ad hoc Sustainability group - I became frustrated with the lack of action within village government to spend the village’s Sustainability Fund on projects that lower Oak Park’s greenhouse gas emissions, so I helped create an ad hoc sustainability group recognized by the village board and staff. This group of local sustainability experts developed recommendations to the village board for the use of the Sustainability Fund. The recommendations passed unanimously in March 2021.
Successfully advocated for funding development of Climate Action Plan, energy efficiency and solar grants, and second sustainability coordinator - As a result of the ad hoc group’s recommendations, the village now has a second Sustainability coordinator, a greenhouse gas inventory was completed, a consultant was hired to create our Climate Action Plan, and we offer energy efficiency retrofit grants to low income households and solar panel rebates.
Promoted ban on gas-powered leaf blowers - In response to communications with interested residents I brought the issue of a gas-powered leaf blower ban to the board. The village board agreed to a ban in fall 2022 and the ordinance itself is currently being developed.
Stimulated sustainable development - As the village board liaison to the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation, I created expectations from developers to include sustainability elements in their buildings, resulting in solar panels, electrification, green roofs, and native plantings.
Our village government has come a long way in the past two years, but it is extremely important that we continue to move forward towards our goal of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2030. To assure that the climate action plan doesn’t sit on a shelf, trustees must lead in both policy and budgeting. We must have specific plans for promoting and funding energy efficiency retrofits for all buildings, change our zoning code to require electrification of all new construction, apply for grant programs to pay for solar and geothermal incentives, and develop innovative methods to offer EV charging for residents of multi-unit buildings, among many other initiatives that we simply must implement if we are going to meet our mitigation goals. I will advocate for regular reporting to the village board so we can hold village staff accountable to our climate action plan