Cook County Announces Multi-Site Construction With Major Energy Savings

Work aligns with Cook County’s ambitious sustainability plan on reducing carbon emissions

Construction is under way for $44.2 million in Cook County building improvements under guaranteed energy savings agreements awarded in June 2015. These energy efficiency projects will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and upgrade lighting infrastructure, aging mechanical systems and temperature controls. The expense savings will fund these improvements over time.

This work is part of the Cook County Sustainability Plan which aims to reduce carbon emissions from County facilities by 80 percent over the coming decades. Through the efforts of its Green Leadership Team, the County’s focus on integrating energy-efficient and green practices into day-to-day operations resulted in Cook County being recognized among the recipients of the Governor’s Sustainability Awards, presented by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center in November 2015.

“Sustainability and green practices are key priorities in my administration, said Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle. Through the efforts of the Green Leadership Team, we are currently ahead of our goal in reducing energy emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

The work is separated into two primary projects:

  • The first project for $32.8 million is guaranteed to reduce energy consumption by 53 percent and water consumption by 27 percent after implementation of energy conservation measures. These measures were selected from a 2014 comprehensive energy audit of suburban courthouses in Bridgeview, Skokie, Markham and Rolling Meadows and the County’s suburban highway maintenance facilities. Highlighted improvements include LED lighting upgrades, boiler plant upgrades, chiller plant upgrades, energy management controls system upgrades, window replacements and water conservation measures.

A new ground source heat pump system at the Skokie courthouse will utilize renewable energy to provide heating and cooling for the building. Solar photovoltaic “trees” installed in courthouse parking lots will provide electricity from a renewable resource and provide shading for parked cars. Solar walls at Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways garages in Des Plaines, Orland Park, Schaumburg and Riverdale will be installed. The solar walls will be constructed vertically and affixed to existing building walls with southern orientations to maximize their ability to harness solar power.

  • The second project for $11.4 million is expected to reduce energy consumption by 30 percent and water consumption by 13 percent after implementation of energy conservation measures selected from a 2014 comprehensive energy audit of the County Building at 118 N. Clark and the George W. Dunne Administration Building at 69 W. Washington. Highlighted improvements include: lighting and energy management control system upgrades, water conservation measures and enhancements to systems for chilled water, hot water and steam distribution.

In addition to infrastructure upgrades, the project includes an employee engagement program. NORESCO’s Energy Conservation Through Behavior Change program engages Cook County employees in the energy efficiency efforts and raises awareness of the county’s energy and sustainability initiatives for employees and residents, demonstrating a holistic approach to energy conservation. NORESCO is an energy service company (ESCO) specializing in the development, design, construction, financing and operation of energy and environmental efficiency projects.

Cook County managed competition for the contracts in accordance with its procurement code, including request for proposal procedures and established evaluation criteria. The projects were developed with a focus on the use of local labor, Cook County-based firms, and small business enterprises.

The schedule for the two new agreements calls for two years of construction followed by 20 years of verification of the energy and water savings.