Glen Ellyn couple pledge $ 100,000 in ‘green’ donations to DuPage Forest Preserve


A couple from Glen Ellyn pledges $ 100,000 to help renewable energy efforts for the DuPage County Forest Reserve District.

Ann Boisclair and Jeffrey Jens were honored by forest reserve officials in a ceremony Saturday at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn. This property received a donation of $ 25,000 from the couple in 2020 for the installation of solar panels.

“We’ve been concerned about global warming for years and we’ve finally started to do something,” Jens said in a pre-ceremony interview. “We have been lucky in our lives and want to share our luck with those who want to bring more solar energy to the world.”

The $ 100,000 donation is for a solar power project at the Blackwell Forest Preserve Fleet Management Building on Mack Road in West Chicago.

“This will be the district’s most ambitious solar project to date,” DuPage Forest Preserve District Chairman Daniel Hebreard said in a statement. “It will be of great benefit to the environment and to the taxpayers of DuPage County by helping us manage operating costs over the long term.”

The district’s other solar projects are at the Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton and The Preserve at Oak Meadows in Addison, which has a fleet of solar-powered golf carts.

The Blackwell project is expected to produce 384 megawatt hours of electricity per year, save about $ 22,000 per year and offset 100% of the fleet building’s electric power consumption, according to Kevin Horsfall, director of the district planning department.

“It’s a new building, and there’s no problem with the roof,” Jens said. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t face south as beautifully as it does at Willowbrook.”

Jens said his worldview of the environment was crucially shaped as a 12 and 13-year-old employee at Willowbrook in the early 1960s. Jens and Boisclair also initially focused their forest preservation philanthropy. on Willowbrook to honor Jens’ fond memories of his former resident babysitter, Dorothy Hoger.

Jens said the large south-facing rooftops of Willowbrook were “incredibly perfect, especially when they weren’t built with solar power in mind.”

According to Horsfall, Willowbrook’s solar panels are expected to offset 30% of the centre’s total electricity demand and provide annual savings of $ 8,000 for about 25 years.

Boisclair and Jens have also provided seed money for solar projects for other organizations. For example, Jens and Boisclair work with the Illinois Chapter of Faith in Place, a national group that helps religious institutions focus on environmental issues.

Jens’ alma mater, Dennison University in Granville, Ohio, also received donations to equip a student building with solar panels. Jens said the savings prompted the university to install solar panels on three neighboring buildings.

“For those who are considering setting up solar projects, it’s really hard to resist that money,” Jens said. “It is very clear that this gives a boost in reaching a target for solar energy.”

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