Courtesy Viktor Schrader, Oak Park Development Corporation
As Oak Park's catalyst for economic growth, Oak Park Development Corporation (OPDC) is assisting 23 businesses from the Oak Park-River Forest business community to 'Grow Green'.
With funding support from both the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation and the Village of River Forest, OPDC is rolling out a green business initiative focused on encouraging sustainability-related investments and improvements that align with the goals of Plan It Green, Oak Park's community sustainability plan, and strengthen a business' bottom line.
Businesses participating in this one-year program will receive two free audits, five educational seminars, free products and installations, networking opportunities, and a marketing kit to announce 'greening' efforts to consumers. Participants will also learn about efforts that other local businesses have made in sustainability areas of waste and recycling, energy, food, transportation, and water.
Local Businesses are 'Growing Green' with OPDC's Green Business Program
The inaugural class of businesses 'greening' their practices and properties includes: Wonder Works, Magical Mind Studios, West Cook YMCA, Scratch 'n Sniff, Pumpkin Moon, Nevin Hedlund Architects, Ten Thousand Villages, Kinderhook Tap, Green Home Experts, AltCare Health Center, Little Bits Workshop, Oak Park Dental Studio, Sugarcup Trading, Takara Designs, Takara Home, Serenity Partners, Sirius Cooks, Lake Theatre, Carleton Hotel, Barclay's American Grille, Eyrie Restaurant, Sun Star Dental, and the River Forest Community Center.
Although the OPDC Green Business Program just began in January, progress has already been made. Businesses have attended seminars on recycling and energy and several businesses have completed their initial energy audit. Of the six audits conducted so far, potential savings amount to 39,338 kWh and 749 therms by making electrical and natural gas improvements. According to the EPA*, these reductions are similar to preventing 6.8 cars from driving for one year and sequestering carbon by 808 tree seedlings for ten years. Once all 23 audits have been completed and changes implemented, the environmental impacts could double or even triple. Energy audits are being offered through the Nicor and ComEd Small Business Energy Savings Program and Project Green of Forest Park, and include the installation of free energy saving products such as faucet aerators and improved lighting systems.
By receiving their energy audits through the Small Business Energy Savings Program, the Growing Green program participants are also helping fellow participant West Cook YMCA raise $25,000 for energy efficiency improvements through the Nicor Community Challenge. For more information about the Nicor Community Challenge, visit http://nicorgasrebates.com/index.php/challenge/cities/oak-park.