Lake Street in downtown Oak Park is seen on Monday, March 8, 2021. | ALEX ROGALS/Staff Photographer

The village of Oak Park is seeking guidance from the Environment and Energy Commission (EEC) in crafting a request for proposal (RFP) to hire a consultant who will lead development of a comprehensive sustainability and climate action plan. 

EEC commissioners provided multiple recommendations for the RFP during its May 12 meeting, including the suggestion of Commissioner Mark Goldberg to set up infrastructure to provide annual disclosures of environmental data. 

Goldberg wanted the annual disclosure report to include data “on behalf of the village as an entity; the village itself as a building owner, operator, decision maker;” as well as “on behalf of village residents as an entity.” 

He originally thought the consultant did not need to include businesses since businesses have other “drivers.” Goldberg later changed his mind and said they were worthy of inclusion.

The climate action plan will include a local climate risk assessment that provides a roadmap of areas needing change and a review of greenhouse gas emissions, according to Oak Park Sustainability Coordinator Mindy Agnew. 

Oak Park is a member of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), which will provide additional guidance.

“We want to set an interim 2030 science-based target, aligned with guidance sent from the Biden administration and ICLEI, to reach climate neutrality by 2050,” said Agnew.

The goal is a reduction in emissions by 2030 that will set the stage for complete neutrality by 2050, according to Agnew.

Goldberg wants a bi-annual adjustable timeframe for the “top 10” deliverable projects verified as “good enough” by the village board paid for with Community Choice Aggregation funds. 

The Community Choice Aggregation program allows municipalities to buy and generate electricity for residents and businesses in their area. In Oak Park, that rate is no greater than ComEd’s basic service rates. Oak Park’s rate includes the existing three-tenths of one cent fee per kilowatt hour to fund local renewable energy projects, according to the village of Oak Park’s website.

 “We’ve got a big bucket of money and no projects,” said Goldberg, noting that the defined projects could also fall under the same umbrella as those on the capital improvement list. 

Commissioner Stephen Morales, who ran unsuccessfully for village trustee in the April 6 election, asked that the RFP include a provision that the chosen consultant deliver information on the status of charging stations for electric automobiles in Oak Park.

“Do we need more in parking lots? Do we start to subsidize them in people’s garages or in multi-unit buildings?” Morales asked.

Morales wanted the RFP to consider such sustainability areas as green rooftops in Oak Park and environmentally efficient waste reduction programs.

Part of the development of the climate action plan will include a public relations campaign for $35,000 to run from July through September marketing energy-efficiency audits and retrofit grants. Morales asked that the communications plan take into account “social media, print media, in-person discussions and every other avenue.”

The RFP has an expected issue date of early summer, according to Deputy Village Manager Ahmad Zayyad. The village board does not need to approve the RFP prior to its issuance as staff received direction to create and issue it with the input of the EEC. 

Goldberg wanted to review a draft of the RFP but was advised against it by Zayyad, as it would make the document subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.

“When it’s a final document, then we publish it,” said Zayyad.

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