The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is taking part in numerous Earth Day events this year. In honor of Earth Day, the Department has scheduled tree planting events throughout its nine district offices. In cooperation with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, IDOT has acquired a number of trees free of charge which are being sent to each district office and the Central Office as part of annual landscape material deliveries.
In addition to the tree plantings, IDOT participated in the Governor’s Green Expo in Chicago this week and will also participate in the following events:
Governors State University’s Permeable Pavement Dedication and Green Fest
Date: Thursday, April 23
Time: 11:00 am - 3:30 pm, with Permeable Pavement Dedication at 2:00 pm
Location: Governors State University, University Park
Earth Awareness Fair and Green Fest
Date: Friday, May 29 & Saturday, May 30
Time: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm (Friday)
10:00 am - 4:00 pm (Saturday)
Location: Prairie Capital Convention Center, Springfield
District 1 in Schaumburg will be incorporating its tree planting with “Bring Your Children to Work Day.” D-1 employees will plant trees with their children who accompany them to work for the day.
District 2 in Dixon is setting up a pilot program for the use of rain barrels at its welcome centers and rest areas. Rain from the barrels would be used to water plants, grass and flowers at rest areas and welcome centers, conserving water in the process. Rain barrels help provide clean water for outdoor use, conserve water and other natural resources, decrease the chance and/or magnitude of a flood, minimize the effect of drought, and decrease water pollution contribution.
IDOT continues to expand its recycling efforts and purchase low emission diesel trucks and vehicles that use E-85 and Biodiesel. The Department purchases a limited number of hybrid vehicles for its fleet every year. The Adopt-A-Highway program continues to grow and IDOT is looking into the possibility of working with volunteers to recycle some of the litter found on the side of State highways.
IDOT also has a highway sign recycling program under which the department recycles 45,000 to 50,000 highway and freeway signs annually. This process saves more than 190,000 gallons of water, conserves 427,000 pounds of aluminum, and saves the State more than $600,000 per year. IDOT also recycles paper, used motor oil and antifreeze, and has master contracts for the recycling of toner cartridges and road barricades.
The Department is pursuing fuel conservation efforts such as carpooling and attending meetings by conference calls and teleconferences when possible. IDOT also engages in public outreach and develops brochures detailing the Department’s Green Initiatives, E-85/Biofuels station locations, and fuel conservation tips. These brochures are placed at rest areas throughout Illinois. The brochures are printed on recycled paper or paper that came from trees grown in sustainable forests. IDOT has also worked with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s ‘Illinois Center for Transportation’ in conducting feasibility studies for alternative renewable energy production by use of wind turbines and solar panels at rest areas and other facilities.
In addition to these initiatives, IDOT is working to promote PrePass. This is the automatic vehicle identification system that enables participating transponder-equipped commercial vehicles to be pre-screened at designated weigh facilities and port-of-entry facilities. The environmental benefits of PrePass include the conservation of fuel and the reduction of CO2 emissions. 25% of trucks on the roads in Illinois currently use PrePass and IDOT is working to expand the use of this system to maximize the sustainability benefits.
All IDOT Green Initiatives projects are managed by a “Green Initiatives Committee” chartered by Director of Finance and Administration, Ann Schneider. The committee’s purpose is to effectively coordinate, manage, report, and improve all current and ongoing Green Initiatives in conjunction with Governor Pat Quinn’s Green Government Coordinating Council. Committee members are in the process of creating a quarterly internal E-Newsletter to keep employees aware of this ongoing effort. The Green Initiatives Committee is also developing a SharePoint site to track and share green proposals, events, and ideas.