Sustainability programs

Native gardens being installed along Central east of Keystone by River Forest Public Works crews.

The Village of River Forest is committed to promoting and creating a more sustainable environment through its Sustainability Commission and a variety of programs, initiatives and resources. The River Forest Sustainability Commission issues an annual Strategic Plan to guide their work.  For a copy of the most recent RFSC Strategic Plan, click here. Consult the list below for sustainability programs by topic.

Green News

River Forest Tree Trails

The River Forest Sustainability Commission has created a new activity for the residents of our village, those young in years as well as those young at heart!  Go to River Forest Trees to find out about River Forest Tree Trails: On Your Block, a unique, fun and socially distant way to get to know the trees on your block. Get outside and try it out! 

What's recyclable?

Are the items you are recycling actually recyclable? Click here for a video from WGN and learn why it is more important than ever to recycle properly.  Remember: do NOT put your recyclables in plastic bags and always place them loosely in your bin.  Plastic bags, flimsy plastic, hangers, batteries, diapers, and medical sharps NEVER go in your recycling bin no matter what community you live in.

For more information on recycling in River Forest visit vrf.us/recycling. For questions, email sustainability@vrf.us.

Village Commitment

The Greenest Region Compact 2 (GRC2) promotes sustainability in communities around the Chicago region with an emphasis on building strong and vibrant communities. To date, more than 70 communities have signed the Compact, which addresses ten areas, including climate, economic development, energy, land, leadership, mobility, municipal operations, sustainable communities, water, and waste & recycling.

 The GRC2 guides municipalities towards sustainable goals and actions and encourages communities to work together to create a sustainable region.

 In the Village of River Forest, the GRC2 was adopted by Resolution 16-17 on December 12, 2016. The Village of River Forest has been a leader in the Chicago region in sustainability.

President Adduci is a signatory on behalf of the Village of River Forest to the Chicago Climate Charter.  The Village has specifically committed to:

  • Expanding River Forest’s curbside compost offering, to divert more organic material from  landfills, reduce the emissions from longer distances to haul the village’s landfill waste, and turn residents’ organic waste into a valuable compost commodity for our community;
  • Improving and adapting the pathways and roads in RF to be more pedestrian and bike friendly, with the goal of enabling and encouraging the choice of walking or biking over driving;
  • Collaborate with neighboring municipalities and relevant governmental organizations to connect the Des Plaines River and Prairie Path bike paths, for commuting and recreational use by bike and on foot;
  • Accelerating municipal use of renewable energy and working to deliver affordable renewable energy access in all communities;
  • Adopting policies and investments that reduce or eliminate, and encourage the reduction and elimination of,the carbon footprint of public transit systems, my city’s own vehicle fleet, and privately-owned vehicles.

Read the Charter.


Sustainability Initiatives

Free compost for your garden! Twice a year for River Forest residents who sign up for curbside pickup of compostables

Green Block Parties

Click here for information about Green Block Parties.

Energy efficiency

Landscaping

Water management

Waste reduction and management

Community and business initiatives


Energy efficiency

There are many ways each of us can help cut down the amount of fuel and energy we consume and reduce air pollution at the same time. Here are a few easy ways you can save gas, money and the environment:

Green Electric Aggregation Program

Beginning in September 2020 the Village of River Forest will establish a green electric aggregation program that supports renewable energy projects and offsets the Village’s CO2 emissions, making significant progress towards the goal of to reaching 100% renewable energy by 2050.  The program is estimated to eliminate nearly 26,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, equivalent to the annual emissions of approximately 5,500 cars. It would take 34,000 acres of forest (137 times the size of Thatcher Woods) to sequester the same amount of carbon.

The Village will accomplish this by resuming its electric aggregation program. MC Squared Energy Services, LLC was selected to provide electric supply which will support clean, renewable energy development through the acquisition of certified Renewable Energy Certificates (REC’s) from wind farms in the Midwest. This program will provide eligible residents and small business with an electric supply price equal to the ComEd rate for a 24-month term with all bills and electric distribution still being handled by ComEd. It will also provide  a civic contribution at zero added cost to the residents or the Village which the Village will utilize to support sustainability projects. The program also enables the Village to be designated an EPA Green Power Community at zero added cost to residents or the Village.    

Residents and businesses will receive a letter from the Village of River Forest with additional information in July 2020. Residents with questions can call 888-423-1390 or email RiverForest@mc2energyservices.com

For more information:

Nicor Financial Rebate Programs

Nicor offers financial rebates to residential customers for the installation of high efficiency boilers, storage water heaters and high efficiency furnaces. Learn more about the rebate program for your home.

The Nicor Gas Energy Efficiency Program offers financial rebate incentives to Nicor Gas business customers for saving energy, as well as for replacing outdated natural gas equipment with new, high-efficiency models. The program also provides funding for custom energy-saving programs for qualified commercial projects. Learn more about the business rebate program.

ComEd Energy Savings Programs

ComEd offers a host of energy savings programs, including Fridge and Freezer recycling, real-time pricing, a multi-family home energy savings program, and more. Click here to learn more about the ComEd programs.

Public Transportation

River Forest provides a host of public transportation options to, from and around the community including the Metra West Rail Line, CTA Green Line and Pace Bus Service.

Solar

SolSmart

SolSmart is a national program designed to recognize communities that have taken key steps to foster the growth of mature local solar markets. Communities that meet the official criteria are designated SolSmart Gold, Silver, or Bronze. SolSmart is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association, and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.

To achieve Bronze designation, River Forest adopted solar best practices including reviewing local zoning regulations and identifying restrictions that intentionally or unintentionally prohibit solar system development. River Forest also created and posted an online permitting checklist, detailing the required forms, permits, and steps, ensuring that the rooftop solar permitting process is faster and easier to install.

For additional information please read the press release.

Click here for information on permitting.

Considering Solar for your Home or Business?

The State of Illinois has passed legislation making putting solar on your home or business easy and inexpensive due to generous incentives. The return on your solar investment will be quick and will provide many years of clean, renewable energy. Not only does an investment in solar help reduce your carbon footprint and reliance on the grid, but it makes financial sense. Below are some great resources to help determine if going green is right for you.

FAQs:

What are the common purchase options?

  1. You pay for and own the system. This requires the highest upfront cost but quickest and largest return.
  2. You can opt for a PPA or Power Purchase Agreement. This is when the solar contractor or one of their partners finances the upfront costs and sells you back the power at a lower cost than you would pay with the utility.

Click here for more information.

I can’t put solar on my roof, what other options do I have?

  1.  You can change to a Green Energy Plan which will procure Renewable Energy Credits (REC or SREC) to cover all or part of your energy usage. Learn about REC’s here.
  2.  You can participate in Community Solar which allows you to buy into an actual solar project and benefit from discounted, renewable solar energy. 

I’m getting solicited all the time via mail, email and door to door sales. How do I know if these businesses are legitimate?

Because solar has become a booming industry in Illinois a lot of companies are trying to win your business. Here are some resources to help.

  1.  These companies are most likely trying to sell you a rooftop system or a green energy plan.
  2.  Please make sure the company is registered with ISEA.
  3.  All contractors doing solar installations in River Forest must be licensed with the Village of River Forest.
  4.  Educate yourself here on green energy plans as the options can be confusing.
  5.  Always be sure to get competitive quotes. Don’t let one company talk you into making quick decisions, take your time and get a competitive quote to provide more information and context for your decision making process.
  6.  Reach out to the Village of River Forest Sustainability Commission – we are happy to help you better understand all the information: sustainability@vrf.us 

What if I live in a landmark or historically significant home?

Solar can be installed in ways to not interfere with the status of your home or the historical architecture. We strongly advise you to contact the Historic Preservation Committee during the planning phase to understand best practices and any limitations.

For more information please read the Historic Preservation section of the Solar Permit Checklist.

Click here for information on the Historic Preservation Committee.

Lawn and Tree Care

Healthy Lawn, Healthy Family Initiative

River Forest is pleased to announce the Healthy Lawn, Healthy Family Initiative. Here you will find tips on how you can create a Healthy Lawn. If you take the pledge, you will join the many River Forest residents who have made the commitment to a sustainable and resilient lawn. In doing so, you will contribute to a healthier environment for your family, pets, insect pollinators and the Des Plaines River. You will also receive our "Keep ON the Grass" lawn sign to show your commitment.

Below are links you will find helpful toward transforming your lawn to a Healthy Lawn!

Also, click here to download A GUIDE TO GROWING ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY LAWNS & GARDENS from Midwest Grows Green.

Click here to take the pledge!

Public Engagement

PlanItGreen Sustainability Plan

PlanItGreen, a sustainability planning and implementation project seeded by the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation's Communityworks Partnership, has engaged residents, businesses and institutions in developing a two-community, ten-year sustainability plan for the Villages of Oak Park and River Forest. The plan supports the interests of leaders and stakeholders in engaging all levels of community to reduce their environmental footprint and advance common sustainability objectives. The project is overseen by the Communityworks Advisory Board and the PlanItGreen Core Team. Phase 1 of PlanItGreen began in August, 2010 with the aggregation of baseline metrics on community resource use conducted by the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Phase 2, led by Seven Generations Ahead in collaboration with the Delta Institute, included a multi-faceted community engagement process resulting in the development of a final plan with goals, targets and strategies in each of nine sustainability topic areas - energy, waste, transportation, water, food, education, community development, open space and ecosystems, and green economy. This phase culminated on June 23, 2011 with the release of the final plan at an event with over 100 community leaders and residents. SGA is directing Phase 3 of the project, which includes 2012 and 2013 strategy implementation, data aggregation and the project's first sustainability report card. The links below provide an executive summary of the project, a copy of the Sustainability Plan and Report Card. 

Stormwater Management

Order a Rain Barrel

Rain barrels are a great way to capture and store rainwater coming off a roof. Rain barrels consist of a plastic storage container, a system for diverting downspout water into the barrel, and an overflow that returns to the downspout or diverts water safely away from the house.

Water from rain barrels can be used to water your lawn, garden or household plants and reduces stormwater runoff, thereby reducing the strain on our combined sewer system during major storm events.

Between January 2014 and December 2016, the MWRD will have funded and distributed more than 120,000 free rain barrels. The demand for rain barrels has cultivated a newfound understanding and appreciation for managing water in addition to providing the MWRD with an opportunity to provide many communities with a new tool in combating flooding.

As of December 2016, the MWRD has discontinued the free rain barrel program and has returned to its prior program of selling rain barrels at cost on the MWRD’s website, www.mwrd.org

Click here to learn more about Rain Barrels and to order yours.

Waste Reduction and Management

Zero Waste Station Loaner Program

The Village has three Zero Waste Stations that are available for residents to borrow for neighborhood events.  Waste Stations allow participants to sort their trash, recyclables, and compost materials into separate bags and then dispose of all the bags as part of the Village's weekly trash, recyclable, and compost pickups.  The Waste Stations include the foldable waste station, bags, and instructions on how to sort the waste.

Waste Stations can be reserved using the Sort-It-Out Loan Program Agreement.  Download the paper form and return the completed Agreement form either in person at Village Hall, or via e-mail to Joan Espana or go paperless (links below).  Once reserved, the waste station can be picked up and returned to the Village Hall at 400 Park Avenue Monday through Friday, between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm.  Click here for Waste Sorting Guides

Online Sort-It-Out Reservation Sort-It-Out Reservation (download)