Gilbert is moving forward with plans to form an environmental citizens committee as it begins the process of revamping its citizen boards and commissions.
A Town Council subcommittee met this week to discuss how to consolidate boards and commissions to attract and retain more volunteers, which could take six months. Also, the council is looking at creating an environmental and energy commission proposed by council members Les Presmyk and Linda Abbott.
Presmyk’s goal is for the committee to make recommendations on new ordinances that could use noncostly incentives, such as speedier zoning processes, to encourage developers and homebuilders to use alternative forms of energy to create “carbon-free” buildings that don’t emit excess carbon dioxide.
Among the alternatives could be solar panels to generate heat and electricity, and thicker insulation and window panes to conserve energy.
It will take at least a year before an ordinance comes before the council, Presmyk said.
Presmyk, a Salt River Project mining engineer, said a key to the idea would be to educate the public — including homeowners associations that frown upon and often prohibit solar panels — about the importance of conservation and new “green” construction methods.
“There are a number of issues that need to be overcome,” he said. “It comes with education — leading and showing people that we need to change our ways.”
Abbott, a government teacher, said her goal is to focus on that education, which would advise residents on easy ways to recycle and conserve water, use xeriscaping in lawns and take advantage of alternative transportation such as buses.
“More and more people are aware and looking for ways to participate,” she said.
The subcommittee, which includes Mayor Steve Berman, meets again Oct. 13 to discuss whether other committees can be eliminated, merged or revamped.
One idea already under consideration is to combine the Community Activities Board, which plans events in town, with a newly proposed equestrian advisory board that would review proposals to build an equestrian and multipurpose facility in town.