New York, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago … what’s stopping Oak Park from joining these and many other U.S. cities moving toward requiring new buildings to be gas-free?

From extraction to combustion, the gas powering our furnaces, hot water heaters, stoves, and dryers is a major contributor to toxic indoor air pollution as well as climate heating. Methane released into the atmosphere from gas leaks has 86 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.

That’s why Climate Ready Oak Park, the climate action plan the village adopted last summer, commits Oak Park to “transition natural gas units in all existing buildings across the village to electric units.”

Let’s get started!

Mandating new buildings to be all-electric is the low-hanging fruit in this transition away from fossil fuels. Designing all-electric buildings from scratch is easier and cheaper than retrofitting older gas-powered ones. Gas-free interiors are safer. They have better indoor air quality (forget that carbon monoxide detector).

Highly efficient all-electric buildings require less energy and operate more cheaply than conventional gas-powered ones, yielding smaller carbon footprints regardless of how that electricity is generated. And through community solar, all-electric buildings can be powered from renewable sources now.

Requiring all-electric new construction will help our community do its part to transition Illinois to energy sustainability as soon as possible. The Oak Park Village Board needs to follow the lead of major U.S. cities and require us to build now for a gas-free 21st century.

Wendy Greenhouse
Oak Park

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