September 5, 2019 at 12:55pm

$1.78 million grant from Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation for high sustainability standards to fund energy efficient facility

A generous $1.78 million grant to the Northbrook Park District ensures its new Activity Center will achieve Net Zero Energy building status, by generating as much renewable energy as the building needs to operate. The funding, from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, will support conservation measures for the 44,200 square-foot building located in Techny Prairie Park and Fields. Northbrook is the second Illinois park district to receive a grant to build a Net Zero Energy building. Receipt of the grant makes funding available for the District’s ongoing Capital Improvement Plan. The new project officially broke ground on July 10 and will open in early 2021.

What is a Net Zero Energy Building Infographic“We’re thrilled the Foundation has put its trust in the Northbrook Park District, and excited to fulfill the Net Zero Energy building requirements,” said the District’s Executive Director Molly Hamer. “As a Park District, we are dedicated to preserving and enhancing our environment, and that makes this the right goal for us.”

The new Activity Center’s innovative design by Chicago-based Wight & Company, experienced in designing and constructing Net Zero Energy recreational facilities, exceeds state and national sustainability standards and is part of the District’s ongoing commitment to enhancing the village’s green spaces now, and for future generations. This energy-efficient building will feature components and building materials chosen to meet Net Zero Energy building requirements, including:

  • An array of solar panels on the roof
  • HVAC systems and mechanical equipment with the highest efficiency ratings
  • Increased insulation values in the walls and roof
  • High-performing windows and strategic placement to help regulate temperature
  • LED lighting throughout the building and parking lot
  • Occupancy sensors in rooms and daylight sensors in perimeter spaces
  • EPA Indoor Air Plus requirements for paint and materials

In order to qualify for the grant, the Foundation requires that the building receive a third-party certification ensuring the building is aggressively efficient in its energy use. This building is slated to receive two certifications, PHIUS+ and Source Zero Certifications, both from the Passive House Institute US. In addition to funding construction and materials, the grant program requires that grantees provide educational opportunities to help residents learn about the building’s energy-efficient features. The new Activity Center will have educational panels and an energy usage display. Once the building opens, the District will also closely monitor the project to ensure the building meets the Net Zero Energy building benchmarks, and requirements for the final portion of the grant.

“We’re proud to recognize the Northbrook Park District’s leadership in sustainability with this Net Zero Energy building, said Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation’s Program Director for Energy, Gabriela Martin. “The Foundation’s goal is to encourage exemplary buildings and demonstrate that Net Zero Energy building performance is realistic and achievable. We hope that the new Activity Center will inspire more park districts to meet the Net Zero challenge.”

The new Activity Center is part of the 2018 – 2022: New Places to Play initiative, and is the culmination of a long, open community process that ensures the facility provides the highest-priority services for residents. These include an indoor recreational and fitness center, an indoor walking and running track, multipurpose rooms, and a gymnasium for pickleball, basketball, camps, and other activities.

The building decor will be inspired by a painting titled Trail Through Time, which the District purchased at the Northbrook Plein-Air Painting Festival, that shows what Techny Prairie Park and Fields looked like nearly a century ago. The colors featured in Trail Through Time by Nyle Gordon, an American artist, will be carried throughout the building, and the original painting will be on display in the Center.

The Net Zero Energy Building Program awards grants to nonprofit, government, and higher education organizations for exemplary buildings that maximize energy efficiency. Over a 12-month period, projects must achieve a Net Zero Energy building performance (or better). Net Zero Energy buildings offset their own energy consumption by generating required energy on-site from renewable resources.