“Our long-term coal energy contract doesn't make sense in a time when renewable energy is so high on our residents' priority list.”
— Mark Urda
Back in the day, being green simply meant recycling your newspapers and Coke bottles. Today, people talk about the percentage of recycled content in fabrics, the niche EV market and ask why Naperville still uses mostly coal power. But in the coming decades, there will be a massive expansion in the reach of sustainability into most every corner of life!
Internal combustion engines will go the way of the horse and buggy, with electric vehicles competing against greener hydrogen vehicles. We’ll boast of zero emissions homes and CO2-free concrete manufacturing. Collaborative consumption of goods and sustainability initiatives in corporate America will be the norm, not a novelty. And it will usher in a wave of new jobs to both research greener products and production methods, and help today’s economy adapt to this bold future!
We need Naperville to be ready to embrace this greener future as these products, technologies and methods take root. Our city government will be called upon to upgrade its assets and operations, as well as lower barriers to community adoption. In the near term, that could see us replacing older police vehicles with hybrid vehicles with much lower operating costs. One sticking point, though, is that we are contractually locked into a coal power contract that limits our ability to diversify into publicly desirable, sustainable power sources.
Long term, could Naperville adopt policies of the sponge city concept to minimize storm flooding? That would be visionary(!), though not free. It would also require buy-in and shared financial commitment from homeowners. But it might bring hope to those who feel overwhelmed by the stress of seeing masses of red on the weather radar, knowing that a flooded yard puts their home and belongings at risk.
We will need leaders on the Council who are forward-thinking and are willing to champion local, near-term sustainability initiatives. Not to appease a voter demographic or win an award, but because sustainability will be the new normal.