Soak in the Solar

A Blog About Nature in our DuPage Forest Preserves

Soak in the Solar

Posted by Dave Andrusyk | 3/10/21 3:43 PM

As we celebrate International Solar Appreciation Day on Thursday, March 10, let’s look at the many ways we benefit from the sun and how we can harness its energy to help create clean sustainable energy.

Soak in the Benefits of Solar

It’s easy to take the sun for granted and not realize how much we depend on it until there’s a week of cloudy, dreary days. Here are a few of the benefits we all get from our closest star.

  • The sun keeps us happy
    No doubt about it, with shorter days in winter and many of them cloudy, it’s is easy to see how the winter blues are a thing. The sun’s rays help the brain release serotonin, a hormone known to boost a person’s mood and help them feel calm and focused. Spending time in the sun can make a person happier!

  • The sun keeps us healthy
    The sun has many benefits to your health. Studies show that vitamin D helps boost our immune systems and fight off infections. You could go to the store and buy a vitamin D supplement, but isn’t it more fun to go outside and soak in that vitamin D for free?

  • The sun feeds the world
    Food is necessary for our survival, but without the sun we’d be in a lot of trouble. Plants use the sun’s energy with fresh air and water to make their food through the process of photosynthesis. Plants help create the foods we enjoy from fruits and vegetables to the steak at the finest restaurant.

  • The sun keeps the planet working
    The warmth of the sun keeps the planet working the way it should. It warms ocean currents that create weather patterns worldwide. The earth’s atmosphere protects us from the harmful rays and lets in the right amount of beneficial warmth and energy making it possible for us to live on this amazing planet.

  • The sun gives us free light
    The sun lights up our homes and helps us save on our energy bill. In the winter it’s important to open up those blinds and let the sunlight in to help warm your home for free. Natural light is better for our eyes and causes fewer headaches than artificial light.



DuPage Forest Preserve District and Solar

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County celebrates the sun by taking steps to harness its energy to power our buildings and vehicles. The District’s first use of solar panels began back in 2006, which included powering remotely located equipment such as pumps, trail crossing beacons, parking lot lighting, and hot water heaters in District flush restroom facilities.


Coming in 2022, the District will begin construction of its largest solar array yet on the fleet management building at Blackwell Forest Preserve. The 330-kilowatt array will be capable of producing 384 megawatt hours of electricity a year, offsetting 100% of the building’s electrical-energy consumption. It will not only save taxpayers an estimated $22,000 annually but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 272 metric tons of carbon dioxide. (We’ll also sell back an additional 29,000 kilowatt hours to ComEd annually with its net-metering program.) 


To help implement conservation efforts at the fleet building and similar structures, the Friends of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has created a green-energy endowment fund. You can be a part of this bright future at


In fall 2020, a 72.2-kilowatt photovoltaic array (group of solar panels) was installed on the species recovery building at Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn. These panels are projected to offset 30% of the wildlife center’s total electrical demand.


The solar array at Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn is expected to offset almost 30% of Willowbrook’s electrical demand and potentially save the District up to $8,000 annually for the next 25 years or more.


In 2020 the Forest Preserve District’s The Preserve at Oak Meadows became the first golf course in the nation to have a 100% solar-powered golf cart fleet after installing a solar power system on the cart storage building at the Addison golf preserve.


The Preserve at Oak Meadows in Addison became the first golf course in the nation to have a 100% solar-powered golf cart fleet after solar panels were installed on the cart storage building in 2019.


In 2012, an 18.8- kilowatt photovoltaic array was installed at Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton and was connected to the grid in 2013. The Danada array can offset 100% of the energy used at the equestrian center office, front barn, main parking lot lighting and the 4 LED monitors in a digital visitor information kiosk. It has also reduced around 90 tons of carbon from our atmosphere.


The solar panels installed on the front barn at Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton provide enough energy for the office, front barn, main parking lot lighting and digital visitor information kiosk. 


The District is currently looking into installing solar arrays on its fleet management and facilities management buildings on Mack Road in West Chicago. The size and roof type (metal) of the buildings make it possible for the District to install solar arrays that would provide more than 100% of the power needed to operate both buildings and further lower the District’s carbon footprint.


You and Solar

Solar power is becoming more affordable and available for homeowners with tax incentives, energy rebates, and the sale of energy credits. Using solar provides clean energy and is more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels. There are no moving parts to maintain, so maintenance is minimal, performance is reliable, and it helps lower electricity costs for homeowners.

DuPage Forest Preserve District President Daniel Hebreard is a strong advocate of solar power both personally and for the Forest Preserve District.

“It was exciting to add solar panels to my home, utilizing them for over 95% of my home energy needs.  As president, it has been thrilling to add two major solar projects so far, as we look to continue building on our reputation as the leaders in ‘green.’”

So take some time this Solar Appreciation Day to research whether adding solar panels to your home is right for you.



Topics: Insider, Locations, Conservation, Golf, Willowbrook, Living green

Written by Dave Andrusyk

Dave Andrusyk is the Fullersburg Woods campus coordinator at the Forest Preserve District and has worked for the District since 1998. He spent five years working in Natural Resource Management, doing restoration work in the preserves. Dave later taught school, scout and general public programs in the District’s forest preserves. His knowledge of native gardening stems from years of field experience with the Forest Preserve District and working on native plots at his home.