As part of her ongoing commitment to greater energy efficiency, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced today that by the end of 2011 taxpayers will have saved well over $1 million dollars in electricity savings through the efforts of the ongoing partnership with Cook County Government and ComEd.
As a result of “Wattage Wars,” a competition between nine County buildings to reduce energy usage and save taxpayer dollars, Preckwinkle anticipates savings of more than $1 million by the end of the calendar year. “Wattage Wars” has already yielded more than $417,000 from March to June of 2011, with officials still analyzing the data from more recent months. Preckwinkle praised the efforts of her office so far and called on continued efforts to lower energy costs and produce savings.
“By taking a comprehensive approach in our Cook County facilities, we have successfully lowered energy usage across the board and generated significant savings for tax payers,” President Preckwinkle said. “I want to thank ComEd for partnering with my administration in our efforts to create a more sustainable and cost-effective workplace. We have made significant progress and I’m pleased that we are projected to save taxpayers over $1 million by the end of the calendar year. This is just another step towards changing the culture of Cook County government.”
The total savings for all County facilities’ electricity usage, those who did and did not participate in “Wattage Wars,” is more than $1.1 million. Certain facilities were not included in “Wattage Wars” due to the operational nature of the facilities and the nature of their occupancy (Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and the Department of Corrections).
Preckwinkle’s administration used a number of techniques to help reduce energy use in County buildings including changing custodial staffing hours, controlling air handling units to reduce unnecessary heating and cooling, shutting down escalators and elevators during non-working hours, ensuring minimum lighting requirements are met and installing lighting time clocks to shut off lights at unnecessary hours. Preckwinkle also encouraged employees to take simple steps to aid in energy savings efforts like turning off computers and lights at the end of the day.
Preckwinkle noted that overall County budget savings related to Natural Gas and Electricity totals roughly $6.8 million for FY 2012, of which $5.2 million is related to electricity and $1.6 million is related to natural gas savings. The main components that contributed to these electric savings, along with the reduction in usage, are the reduction in the capacity charge of electricity per kilowatt hour and the lower cost of electricity itself known as the commodity charge. President Preckwinkle pursued the most cost-advantageous way of procuring electricity through a competitive RFP process to save taxpayers more money. This was part of an overall strategy to reduce costs wherever possible and help reinforce a more sustainable workplace.
Joining President Preckwinkle at a news conference to announce the savings was the Frank M. Clark, Chairman and CEO of ComEd.
“ComEd is dedicated to empowering customers with the tools they need to make more informed energy decisions,” Clark said. “We have identified more than $2.4 million in potential annual energy cost savings so far this year for Cook County in a variety of ways including energy usage. We look forward to doing even more to support President Preckwinkle’s efforts to save energy and money for county residents.”
Deborah Stone, the Director of Environmental Control, spoke about the financial as well as environmental imperative of the kind of broad sustainability initiatives that President Preckwinkle has undertaken since being sworn in as Cook County Board President.
“The President believes strongly that environmental sustainability, while critical to our future, is also economic sustainability, and community sustainability,” Stone said. “It is critical that we continue the very serious work of creating a more sustainable Cook County.”
The buildings that took part in “Wattage Wars” are the Second District Courthouse in Skokie, Third District Courthouse in Rolling Meadows, Fourth District Courthouse in Maywood, Fifth District Courthouse in Bridgeview, Sixth District Courthouse in Markham, Domestic Violence Courthouse in Chicago, County Building in Chicago, Forensics Institute in Chicago and the Rockwell Warehouse. The remaining facilities are the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center campus and the Department of Corrections campus.