Solar panels

In 2018, only three private buildings in suburban Schaumburg, Illinois, had solar panels. But by 2020, the village had issued permits for more than 100 homes and five commercial sites.

“It’s over a 3,000% increase,” says Martha Dooley, Schaumburg’s landscape and sustainability planner. She says the growth was the result of simple changes.

With guidance from SolSmart, a Department of Energy program, Schaumburg reviewed local zoning codes and simplified its solar permitting process.

“It’s much more streamlined now, so it reduced the soft costs that are sometimes associated with going solar,” Dooley says.

She also created a resource guide that explains the fees, inspections, and permits required.

People across Schaumburg soon began to act on this information and share it with others.

“I thought this is fantastic because now neighbors are going to tell neighbors what their experiences are,” Dooley says. “And I think that’s really what helped to drive the success of solar in the village.”

She says it’s rewarding to see such rapid growth.

“As you drive down streets and you see these solar arrays on residential homes,” she says, “I think that the image it portrays is one of progress and one of the village supporting a more sustainable future.”

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.