Will County, IL

Will County, IL

Will County is a collar county located in the Chicago metropolitan area with a population of approximately 700,000. The County is among the top 100 largest counties in the nation by population, and it is also the fastest growing county in Illinois, experiencing a 37 percent population increase between 2000 and 2017. Will County government employs more than 2,300 full- and part-time employees.

Will County has committed to reducing its energy usage by 20 percent by 2025 across its portfolio of facilities. The County stood just short of the halfway mark to its 20 percent goal at the end of 2019, and it plans to continue improving building performance and efficiency in upcoming years.

In 2012, Will County first published an Energy Efficiency & Conservation Plan, which identifies a set of energy management goals, actions, and strategies to achieve those goals. Will County also completed its first-ever comprehensive 5-Year Review of Energy & Water Conservation Effort, which outlines all energy and water-saving-related efforts taken since 2012 and analyzes their impact on cost savings over the lifetime of each measure. The Review additionally highlights revenue generation to the County from energy sources, notable policy changes, assessments, and research projects that have or will aid the County in using energy, water, and other resources wisely.

Now, Will County is working with elected officials and leadership to publish the 2021 Energy & Conservation Plan as an update to the 2012 Energy Efficiency & Conservation Plan. The update incorporates a more reader-friendly format, discusses a broader set of initiatives undertaken by the County, and establishes goals that better align with Will County’s current objectives, which are informed by legislation and industry advancements altering the approach to conservation. Using the updated plan as a guide, the County will further progress towards the 20 percent reduction goal.

Will County also continues to implement energy-efficiency and reduction projects in many different properties. The County completed the construction of its new Public Safety Complex & Sheriff's Department at the end of 2017, which was awarded $60,000 in utility energy efficiency program incentives for energy-efficient measures taken in the new building’s design, construction, and commissioning. Two smaller new builds, an Emergency Management Agency Vehicle Storage Facility and an Animal Control Facility, will also participate in utility energy efficiency programs for their sustainable design and construction. Additionally, in November 2020, the County completed its first LEED-certified facility. The LEED Gold Will County Courthouse incorporates a host of sustainable measures, including green rooftops, a solar array, radiant heating and cooling systems, rainwater harvesting for irrigation, and plenty of glass windows to make use of natural daylight. The County is projected to receive nearly $60,000 in utility energy efficiency program incentives for this facility as well. In 2020, through the Public Buildings in Distressed Communities program offered by the County’s electric service provider, the Adult Detention Facility also received roughly $50,000 worth of interior lighting for free, saving an estimated 614,248 kWh of energy and over $49,000 each year.

In addition, Will County strives to procure clean energy. In 2019, Will County completed a study in partnership with STRAND Associates to evaluate the potential of solar PV or solar thermal system installations on County properties, as well as the economic and environmental benefits associated with their use. Although implementing the study’s recommendations has been postponed due to the high cost of the projects, Will County anticipates moving forward with installing solar on eligible buildings when financially feasible. As of 2020, after investing in renewable energy credits (RECs) from wind farms in Iowa, the County now purchases 50 percent of its electricity in larger buildings from renewable sources.

To collect and assess data to measure energy usage, Will County continues to use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. As certain properties become eligible, the County anticipates applying for ENERGY STAR certification for these buildings. The County is also looking at new energy data collection techniques, such as sub-metering, use of energy management information systems (EMIS), and use of fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) software, to better associate varying demands with related facility uses. This will enable energy and facility staff members to more accurately target energy efficiency opportunities and better measure the impacts of past efforts. Sub-metering in particular will also continue to help the County expand its efforts in Demand Response, adding additional buildings, saving money and energy, and helping the County generate additional revenue.

Going forward, Will County will continue efforts that have proven successful, such as working with local utilities to assess facilities at little to no cost and identifying measures that will yield the greatest energy reduction results. Will County will also initiate new efforts to help overcome remaining energy reduction obstacles, like working with employees and management to better engage a culture of reductionism. By motivating employee engagement and assigning accountable members of the Will County team to be stewards of conservation, Will County will be able to tackle some low-hanging fruit that is hard to pick when it comes to asking people to rethink their workplace habits. Ultimately, as older projects continue and newer programs get off the ground, Will County looks forward to reducing energy consumption in its building portfolio.

Buildings Challenge Commitment
1.5Million Square Feet
Energy Goals
20%Reduction in Energy Intensity
Goal Achieved23%Cumulative (vs. Baseline)