Michelle Vanderlaan, owner of Sugar Cup Trading on Marion Street, designed her boutique to be as green as possible. She installed recycled flooring and used reclaimed material for displays, but the cost of installing high efficiency light bulbs was just too expensive. "I did everything else, but upgrading my lighting just didn't make economic sense at the time," Vanderlaan said.
Through Oak Park Development Corporation's (OPDC) green business program, Growing Green, Vanderlaan recently replaced more than 80 bulbs with LEDs. "Not only will I be saving significant money on my utility bills, but now my husband doesn't have to get up on a ladder every week to change blown bulbs. It's a win-win!"
The "greening" accomplishments of 25 local businesses were celebrated on Thursday, October 3, 2013 at Eyrie Restaurant. The businesses acknowledged include: Wonder Works Children Museum, Magical Mind Studios, Westcook YMCA, Scratch 'n Sniff, Pumpkin Moon, Nevin Hedlund Architects, Ten Thousand Villages, Kinderhook Tap, Green Home Experts, AltCare Health Center, Little Bits Workshop, Greenline Wheels, Oak Park Dental Studio, Sugarcup Trading, Takara Designs, Buzz Café, Serenity Partners, Sirius Cooks, Lake Theatre, Carleton Hotel, Barclay's American Grille, Eyrie Restaurant, Sun Star Dental, Beyond Properties, and the River Forest Community Center.
The OPDC Green Business Program began in January with funding support from the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation and the Village of River Forest. Participants attended seminars on recycling, energy, transportation, water, food and marketing their green business. They received an energy audit and incentives to make energy efficiency upgrades. As a result of the recommended changes, annual energy savings among participants are projected to top 380,000 kWh, which is equivalent to the annual consumption of over 47 single family homes. By making these improvements, participants will save an average of $2,300 annually on their utility bills with an average payback period of 2.5 years.
Energy audits were offered through Nicor, the ComEd Small Business Energy Savings Program, and Project Green of Forest Park. Audits included the installation of free energy saving products, such as faucet aerators and improved lighting systems.