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Chicago Park District Wins 1st Place for Best Green Practices

The Chicago Park District is always thinking green. Using solar trash compactors (the far right unit) is just one example.
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The Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) announced its “Best of the Best” award winners, naming the Chicago Park District (CPD) in the category of best green practices.  Second and third place went to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and Lake County Forest Preserve District.

CPD stewards more than 7,600 acres of green space. “We feel it is our responsibility to not only lead by example with policies and practices, but educate the community about the importance of conservation,” said Timothy Mitchell, general superintendent and CEO. CPD green practices include:

Recycling and solid-waste reduction. This program encompasses 570 parks, the 26 miles of lakefront and 23 active swimming beaches. There are 12 community-recycling drop-offs within neighborhood parks, and two recycling trucks  dedicated to picking up recyclables.

Education and Advocacy:  CPD staff is asked to pledge to reduce waste, conserve water and energy, and take public transit.

External Education: Through the Nature Oasis program, park patrons can learn about the importance of conservation. Last year CPD day camps incorporated a green curriculum. The camps enroll more than 25,000 kids each summer.

Public Outreach:  Last year CPD launched a safer-pest control campaign, promoting decreased use of pesticides on turf. The initiative reminds park patrons that dandelions signify a healthy, chemical-free park. An anti-litter campaign also reminds patrons to place litter in the appropriate recycling or trash bins.

Conscientious Purchasing: Green purchasing park contracts include office supplies, janitorial products and office paper.

Green Building: For years, CPD has incorporated green building practices in the design and construction of all new facilities, playgrounds and landscapes. A green scorecard assesses sustainability. New construction follows U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards. The park district continuously assesses facilities for energy efficiency retrofits and implements boiler and lighting retrofits annually. 

Passenger Fleet Vehicles: Fifteen percent of district passenger fleet vehicles are hybrid.

Alternative Energy Sources/Reduced Energy Usage:  In 2007, CPD purchased 30 percent of its electrical use from alternative energy sources and replaced iridescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.

Trees, et al: CPD planted more than 3,000 trees in 2008. Shade trees help reduce the city’s urban heat island effect. A composting program, “grass cycling” for athletic turf maintenance and use of propane-powered clean burning lawnmowers are additional green policies. 

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December 14, 2019, 7:48 am PDT

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