The City of St. Charles practices and promotes a number of environmentally conscious programs and initiatives both in house and within the City. Some of these GREEN programs have been around for a number of years. Here are some of the ways City officials and City staff are promoting environmentally friendly practices:
Fleet Management Committee & Hybrid Vehicles
This committee is made up of staff from most City departments. It evaluates fleet size, vehicle size and usage and use of hybrids. As a result the number of vehicles in the fleet has been reduced, vehicles have been downsized, and there are now two hybrid vehicles. One is in the Police Department and the other in Community Development.
The evaluation process is ongoing and replacements are reviewed each budget year.
Electronic Vehicle Charging Station
A ChargePoint, Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charger is installed on the fourth floor of the 1st Street Parking Garage. The dual charging unit allows two vehicles to charge free for up to two hours. The technology allows users to monitor station availability and receive notifications about the progress of their charging. The City received a 50 percent matching grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to install the unit. The station benefits residents and visitors, but it also further demonstrates the City’s commitment to embracing greener technologies.
LED Street Light Pilot Program
This program has been underway for about a year. Although LED street lights are more expensive than standard high-pressure sodium lights they use significantly less energy for the same illumination level. The lights are being evaluated at several locations to determine acceptability, performance and maintenance requirements.
City buildings throughout the City such as the Public Works Garage, Century Station and City Hall have energy saving motion detection systems for turning lights on and off in offices and meeting rooms. After a room is unoccupied for a certain amount of time the lights go off. This measure helps with energy savings and bulb life and replacement.
The City buildings also have sensors in the plumbing fixtures that reduce water usage and assists with water conservation.
Green Staff: City Bike to Work Program
The City's award-winning Wellness Committee promotes a number of activities for employees; one of these activities encourages employees to ride their bikes to work. The program runs during the summer months and employees log their miles and submit them to the committee. This program not only promotes exercise but also using bicycles instead of cars to commute to work.
Biosolids are the by-product of the wastewater treatment process that has a high nutrient value comparable to fertilizers. The City's two wastewater plants produce approximately 4,000 cubic yards a year of this material. In an effort to promote a beneficial re-use of this material rather than disposing of it in a landfill the City applies it to farmland. The process is permitted and regulated by the IEPA and USEPA.
The City owns 45 acres of farmland for this use and also applies on other farmland working with the University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences on Route 38. Land application of bio-solids has been practiced at the City since 2000. In that time the land application program has diverted approximately 40,000 cubic yards of material from landfills and increased crop yields on the land it was applied.
Recycling of Concrete & Blacktop
The City's Public Works department recycles asphalt and concrete from road projects. The program involves taking the excavated asphalt and concrete to a facility that recycles the material instead of to a landfill. In turn the City purchases the recycled materials for use instead of virgin materials where allowed. The department has been using this practice this for over ten years.
Storm Water Management Plan
The City of St. Charles has an EPA approved Stormwater Management Program Plan. The plan describes procedures and practices implemented by the City to reduce pollutants from storm water runoff. This in turn protects water quality of the Fox River, ensures safe and healthy environment for residents, reduces flood damage, and improves recreational opportunities, better aesthetics and wildlife habitat.
Brine Production for Snow Removal
This process involves the use of a blend of liquid calcium chloride brine and beet juice. The solution is placed on the streets prior to a snow or ice storm and prevents snow and ice from bonding to pavement. This in turn means less plowing and only about 30% use of road salt content compared to 100% salt usage on city streets. The benefits of this are; reduces fuel, equipment and labor costs, reduce plant and turf damage and salt run-off into natural waterways.
This was done along the west side of the Fox River between Illinois St. and Indiana St. (Bob Leonard Riverwalk). This improvement not only provides a pleasant walkway it also prevents sediment from eroding into the Fox River.
An area at Riverside Park, located along the west side of IL 25 between Division and Moore Streets, has been restored to prairie grasses, which eliminates emissions from mowing and provides a wildlife habitat for animals.
Christmas Tree Recycling
The City of St. Charles' refuse contractor collects trees annually after the holidays. The contractor works with other parties to put the trees to a beneficial re-use. In past years the trees were chipped for mulch that could by used by residents. This year thirty percent (30%) of the trees were composted and seventy percent (70%) were part of a pilot program where they were taken to a facility, chipped and converted into energy.
Promoting Energy Savings Through Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
The City promotes the use of compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs as an energy savings. CFL bulbs use significant less energy than the incandescent bulbs they replace and last much longer. The City has promoted their use by distributing 5,000 CFL bulbs to the community. The City provided $1 off coupons as stuffers in the monthly utility bills to promote the use of CFL bulbs.