Cook County: Skokie Courthouse


The Skokie Courthouse is a three-floor masonry courthouse facility built in 1980. Skokie has 26 rooms and was originally designed as a shopping center with many windows, lofty open spaces, and all-electric power. The courthouse was selected for energy efficiency improvements due to its unique energy profile, need for upgraded equipment (much of the system was over 30 years old), and feasible opportunities for alternative power resources. As the second-largest county in the nation, Cook County recognized the importance of practicing sustainable energy planning to reduce its overall environmental footprint. To achieve this and meet the county’s 80 percent greenhouse gas emissions mandate by 2050, Cook County committed to implementing energy efficiency projects over the next 20 years.


Skokie Courthouse was one of the first facilities targeted for energy reduction; the property covers 345,783 square feet and a 483,451-square-foot parking garage. The building is used to meet the needs of District 2 for court proceedings and serves the northern suburbs of Cook County, including Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Golf, Kenilworth, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northbrook, Northfield, Park Ridge, Skokie, Wilmette, and Winnetka, as well as three townships. The Skokie project was included in an energy service contract with three other suburban County courthouses and five Department of Transportation and Highways buildings.



Energy efficiency measures at Skokie Courthouse are expected to save the facility approximately 59 percent in utility costs. A geothermal heat pump system was specifically selected for Skokie Courthouse because of higher heating load requirements (from leaking windows and lack of perimeter heat), outdated controls, and location. The site provided the space and geological requirements to make geothermal a feasible solution at Skokie. Review Cook County’s Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) Photobook for more visual details.

The following table outlines the list of ECMs underway:


Savings Measure


Savings Estimated (kBtu)


Central Plant Ground Source Heat Pump



Install new heat pump systems, natural gas boilers, and high efficiency chillers. These will significantly reduce energy costs and GHG emissions and address critical infrastructure needs. Skokie’s new renewable energy geothermal heat pump system will provide most of the heating and cooling requirements year-round


New air handling unit fans and Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs)



Replace failing supply and return fans


Control System Upgrades



Upgrade existing air handling unit and central plant controls to state-of-the-art direct digital controls, with optimized energy efficient control strategies


LED Lighting Upgrades (Interior and Exterior)


Interior: 2,874,593

Exterior: 1,169,606

Modernization of the lighting systems with the latest long-life LED technology, including occupancy controls in selected areas


Water Conservation



Upgrade restroom fixtures to ultra-low-flow technology


Building Weatherization



Weatherize building envelope at doors and windows

Window Replacement



Replace deteriorated windows


Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations



Install new Level II EV charging stations at each courthouse for public/staff EV drivers with revenue opportunity


Demand Curtailment Services


177.701 kW

Commitment value


Create revenue for the county by reducing demand on electrical grid




Cook County anticipates a greenhouse gas reduction of approximately 3,569 tons per year. As existing equipment was nearly 30 years old, replacing energy systems with updated, energy-efficient products – such as the geothermal heat pump system with complementing natural gas boilers and chillers – will provide both maintenance savings and improved safety for Skokie Courthouse.


*Energy project costs: $9,597,585; Water project costs: $223,427
*Water calculations are estimates based on historical data averages

Annual Energy Use

Baseline (2014)
166 kBtu/sq. ft.
Expected (2018)
119 kBtu/sq. ft.

Energy Savings:


Annual Energy Cost

Baseline (2014)
Expected (2018)

Cost Savings:


Annual Water Use

Baseline (Average 2010-2014)
31.5 gal/sq. ft.
Expected (2018)
21.6 gal/sq. ft.

Water Savings:


Annual Water Cost

Baseline (Average 2010-2014)
Expected (2018)

Cost Savings:


Sector Type

Local Government


Cook County, Illinois

Project Size

829,000 Square Feet

Financial Overview

Project Cost: $9,821,000

Geothermal Central Plant Ground Source Heat Pump System
Geothermal Central Plant Ground Source Heat Pump System

LED Lighting Upgrades (Exterior)
LED Lighting Upgrades (Exterior)

Skokie Exterior and Windows
Skokie Exterior and Windows