A Q&A with K.C. Doyle, climate hero

Opinion: Columns

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By David Martin

Al Gore has received national recognition for heroic work on the climate change issue. Here in Oak Park, we have our own "climate heroes." K.C. Doyle is one of them, and the first to be recognized by the local chapter of Organizing For Action (OFA), through its Committee on Climate Change, which educates consumers and advocates with legislators on sustainable energy goals.

Doyle is the village of Oak Park's sustainability manager, charged with initiating and implementing public projects and programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support urban sustainable living.

Here's a recent Q&A that OFA held
with her:

How can Oak Park localize President Obama's climate change platform?

The village has committed to limiting local use of fossil fuels, which affect air and water quality. Green Fleets is a program for Oak Park municipal vehicles that discourages wasteful engine idling while emphasizing fuel-saving maintenance practices and promoting alternative fuel options. Oak Park is also working to implement PlanItGreen, the sustainability vision plan for Oak Park and River Forest.

How is V.O.P. contributing to President Obama's plan to double use of alternative energy by 2020?

We recently installed a 100 kilowatt solar panel system on the roof of the downtown Avenue Garage. We also have solar thermal panels on our public works center. Just this year, we installed a geothermal heating and cooling system beneath Council Chambers at Oak Park Village Hall. These alternative energy projects will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money and energy, as well as set a local example of renewable energy investment.

President Obama wants to prepare the U.S. for the impact of climate change. How else can V.O.P. help?

I recently served on a committee of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to develop a guide book that will help municipalities prepare for the local effects of climate change as documented by the Illinois Climatology Office. The hope is to follow its guidelines to educate municipal employees and citizens on climate change and begin planning for a more resilient community.

Can you name some key Oak Park "green achievements" in your time as sustainability manager?

In 2012 Oak Park was named a Green Power Community by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) for its decision to integrate renewable energy in its successful municipal electric aggregation program. Last year the village earned EPA's Green Power Community of the Year Award and was named co-winner of the Green Power Community Challenge. Another exciting 2012 development was when Oak Park landed a partnership with the Korean Smart Grid Institute to install 200 solar-powered demonstration sites on Oak Park homes. These will be linked to an electric smart grid with the potential to become power producers — not just energy users. Oak Park was selected from 288 communities nationwide.

K.C. Doyle has been the sustainability manager for the village of Oak Park since August 2009. She is responsible for initiating, managing and/or monitoring sustainability projects and programs for V.O.P. She is co-founder of the Prairie State Sustainability Network (2011). She is a graduate of Chicago-Kent College of Law, IIT, 1990-1993 (Environmental Law) and Marquette University, 1982-1986 (B.A. Journalism/Marketing).


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