If rescuing the environment wasn’t enough incentive for Oak Parkers to start recycling, walking or using less electricity, now there’s an award, too.

The village presented its second annual Green Awards at a ceremony last month, honoring local individuals and organizations that have made efforts to reduce their “carbon footprint.”

A volunteer group of citizens called the Environmental and Energy Advisory Commission asked the community for nominations for the award in September. Fourteen suggestions were received, which the commission whittled down to nine, according to Karen Rozmus, Oak Park’s solid waste coordinator.

The awards are meant to “recognize individuals, groups and organizations that have demonstrated leadership and ingenuity in helping make Oak Park an earth-friendly community to live in,” Michele Gurgas, head of the commission, said in a press release.

The following winners received a certificate and a leaf-shaped plaque made from recycled glass at a village board meeting Nov. 22:

  • Village of Oak Park Fleet Service Division — starting a paperless work-order program, employee bike fleet, truck retrofits to limit diesel fuel emissions and hosting a Green Fleet Expo the past two years
  • Mary Chris Jaklevic and Roy Schuster — building an “ultra” energy efficient home on the 1100 block of South Clinton, which uses a “heat recovery” unit instead of a furnace, according to a village press release
  • Holmes Elementary School — initiating a zero-waste program at Holmes, and helping six other schools do the same
  • Root Riot Community Garden — a public green space created and managed by Amy Beltimacchi and Seamus Ford on land provided by Oak Parker Laura Nowicki
  • Rick Carter — running a pedicab company called Rickshaw Rick’s
  • Marion Street Cheese Market — using an environmentally friendly business model, including recycled building materials and locally grown foods
  • Victor and Jean Guarino — starting and coordinating the Thatcher Woods Savanna Restoration Project
  • Jim Gill — providing energy audits, instructing weatherization contractors
  • Rush Oak Park Hospital — reducing energy use, becoming first building in Oak Park to earn Energy Star insignia

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