The Fox Valley Park District has received a “Best of the Best” award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts in the category of Best Green Practices.
The district will be recognized at the Best of the Best Awards Gala, which will be held virtually this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. The awards gala video will be released on Nov. 12.
“This acknowledgement is particularly rewarding, because it truly represents a districtwide accomplishment,” said Jim Pilmer, the FVPD’s executive director. “Every one of our employees takes an intentional approach in our daily activities or actions, as we aim to protect the environment and reduce our carbon footprint.
“This initiative is fully endorsed by our Board of Commissioners, and we’ll continue to be responsible stewards of the environment.”
In its award entry submission, the district focused on three key initiatives that support its environmentally-friendly practices.
Preserving, Expanding Pollinator Habitats
Responsible conservation and sustainability practices remain a top priority for the District, and directly support a pillar in its mission to “enrich the community … through environmentally and fiscally responsible actions.”
One of those ways is preserving and expanding pollinator habitats in the District’s natural areas. The district owns and manages more than 500 acres of native ecosystems, much of which includes pollinator habitats.
Since 2015, the district has converted 18 acres of turfgrass into pollinator/monarch habitats – an ongoing initiative.
The FVPD is responsible for maintaining more than one million square feet of parking lots, trailheads and pedestrian-used walkways.
When snow and ice get added to the mix, ingenuity is often required to keep residents, members and visitors to district facilities safe during a winter-weather event.
The winter of 2020 was combated with a new technique — a considerable time- and cost-saving measure that featured a liquid solution designed to neutralize any elements Mother Nature unleashed. Previously, the district purchased a liquid application that contained beet juice to ward off the ice and snow.
Though effective, the pre-mixed solution can be both messy and costly. Enter the FVPD maintenance team, which last winter designed and built an in-house mixing system that uses a water-based solution combined with commercial-strength ice melt that contains calcium, sodium and magnesium chlorides.
Since 2016, the FVPD has engaged numerous strategies to become more environmentally sustainable in its management of district facilities. By changing its operation techniques and integrating leading principles of energy efficiency in upgrades and maintenance, the FVPD continues its transformation to a conservation-driven agency.
In order to manage the district’s assets efficiently, staff worked to design and implement a framework for assessments and inspected more than 170 facilities and associated infrastructure to prioritize maintenance, identify improvements and plan replacements.
Once complete, staff researched, bid, and implemented a districtwide energy performance contracting improvements project, which encompassed $2.7M in energy efficiency upgrades procured by a low-interest lease repaid through utility savings over 15 years.
The improvements consisted of a Building Automation System that allowed the monitoring, trending and preventative maintenance of heating ventilation and air conditioning systems within the four largest district facilities — nearly 500,000 square feet of space.
“It is a great honor to recognize the Fox Valley Park District with the Best Green Practices Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts,” said Peter Murphy, IAPD President and CEO. “The ingenuity that they have demonstrated in their steadfast commitment to environmental stewardship sets a high bar for other park districts throughout the state and serves as an outstanding inspiration for all of us to lead greener lives.”
SOURCE: Fox Valley Park District news release