Kane County Government
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Sust​​ain Kane


​The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), and American Public Works Association (APWA) came together in 2009 to state that “A more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable natural and built environment is essential and achievable.” Sustainable construction and building, grounds, and road maintenance has garnered much attention in recent years. Federal and State programs have promoted making public buildings more energy and water efficient, and those efficiencies are translating into operational budget savings.

Among the buildings owned and operated by Kane County are an historic courthouse built in the 1892, a former seminary built in 1941, new animal control and correctional facilities, and a once-department-store recently converted into offices, storage, and judicial hearing rooms. Kane County operates 28 buildings with over 984,000 square feet of total space. These facilities are located throughout Kane County, and each is unique regarding maintenance and improvements. This chapter focuses on ways to reduce the energy and water used to operate and maintain Kane County facilities, minimize waste associated with operations, and make the facilities a healthier, more efficient and inspiring place to work. Many of the strategies and action items will also reduce the financial burden of operating and maintaining County facilities.

Many green building and operating standards exist in the United States, for both construction and operation of facilities like those of Kane County. Green building standards provide a mechanism for verification that investments in sustainable building techniques will result in actual cost, energy, material, and water savings. Some rating systems address the entire site development or facility operational cycle, accounting for energy, water, indoor health, and waste. Some rating systems focus on single resources such as energy or water. Following is a brief description of green building standards referred to in the strategies in this chapter.

1. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design): developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, a rating system that can be pursued for new construction, existing buildings, or entire neighborhood design. LEED accounts for many resources such as water, energy and materials to designate a score or building rating.

2. Green Globes: developed by the Green Building Initiative, a rating system that applies to the construction or operation of commercial buildings. Green Globes ratings account for a wide range of resources (energy, water, etc.) similar to LEED.

3. Energy Star: a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tool, the Energy Star Portfolio Manager is used by facility owners to track energy and water use of existing buildings. Energy Star labels can be earned for facilities which achieve energy efficient performance compared with other similar facilities. Energy Star labels are also applied to appliances, fixtures, and other energy consuming goods.

4. Water Sense: a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tool similar to Energy Star, but which measures the water efficiency of appliances and fixtures. May be a rating for whole facilities in the future.




• Over $1.2 million of Kane County’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funds were used for facility energy efficiency upgrades between 2009 and 2012. The upgrades included the following:

• In 2010 and 2011, energy efficiency audits were conducted at six of the County’s largest facilities (Judicial Center, Juvenile Justice Center, North [Randall Road] Campus, 3rd Street Courthouse, Kane County Government Center Building A, and Health Department.) Lighting audits were conducted at the remainder of facilities at the Government Center.

• Lighting retrofits were conducted at all facilities audited in 2010 and 2011. Light fixtures, ballasts, bulbs, and sensors (occupancy and light) were installed at each of those facilities. Exterior lights were retrofitted at select facilities.

• HVAC systems were upgraded at the Kane County Government Center, and the Juvenile Justice Center in 2011 and 2012.

• The County’s Energy Management System was replaced or updated at two facilities in 2011 and 2012.

• Cool roofs were installed on two facilities (3rd Street Courthouse and Building I) in 2011.

• Facilities staff performs routine maintenance to HVAC systems to maintain their intended operational efficiency. For example, regular changes to furnace filters reduce the burden on air handlers, saving energy and extending system life.


• Dual function (dual flush) toilets are installed at the North (Randall Road) Campus and at the 3rd Street Courthouse to save water.

• Permeable Pavement is installed at the Kane County Cougars Parking Lot and the Kane County Government Center to reduce the volume of stormwater runoff and encourage the infiltration of stormwater from the surrounding facilities and parking lots at those locations.

• Bioswales were installed at the North (Randall Road) Campus parking lot to improve the filtration of pollutants from stormwater from the surrounding facility and parking lot.


• Single-stream recycling bins have been distributed throughout the county buildings - small desk side bins and large common area bins, with more coverage planned for the future.

• Quarterly recycling newsletters are emailed to all staff with reminders about County recycling program.

• The Kane County Information Technology Department sends all internal e-waste to HOBI International, an R2-certified e-scrap recycler. Over 16,000 lbs. of retired County computers and electronic equipment were recycled through this program in 2011.


Strategies & Action Items


Nationwide, the consumption of electricity and natural gas in buildings is the greatest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In 2011, Kane County consumed a total of 13.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 522,904 therms of natural gas, amounting to a total 97.8 million (97,890,805) kilo British thermal units (kBtu). Energy costs at Kane County are well over $1 million each year.

The Kane County 2040 Energy plan, adopted in May, 2011, includes the following goal: “Kane County will reduce energy consumption in County-owned buildings by 10 to 25 percent, based on the specific energy and cost savings opportunities indicated in each building’s energy audit reports. Performance monitoring will track progress and identify adjustments to energy efficient improvements needed to achieve optimal savings.” Kane County government has begun to implement energy efficient strategies in its 28 buildings, but with facilities that vary in age, size, and function, each has different energy needs and opportunities.

Strategy F1: Improve energy efficiency – Existing Buildings

Energy use in existing facilities can vary widely depending on the facility’s age and construction type. Energy audits provide a snapshot of energy use in existing facilities. Energy audits can reveal a wide range of opportunities to improve energy efficiency. Retrocommissioning is the process of returning the systems in a building to their intended functionality. Retrocommissioning includes very low-cost system adjustments, and typically has a very short return on investment.

Energy use should be tracked to identify trends and identify any anomalies which could suggest facility issues. Energy audits will identify energy reduction measures which can be performed in a prioritized manner as funds are available.

Action Items:

1. Conduct second-round energy audits, retrocommissioning, and thermal imaging of Kane County Facilities

2. Maintain Energy Star Portfolio Manager for Kane County Facilities

3. Prepare quarterly Energy Star Portfolio Manager reports

4. Seek Energy Star building certification for buildings which meet EPA criteria

5. Identify building(s) to retrofit in pursuit of Energy Star certification

6. Train staff to perform annual building commissioning

7. Perform annual building commissioning

8. Develop building-specific energy reduction goals

9. Develop monthly brown bag lunch series on energy efficient and green building systems for County staff

10. Specify Energy Star rated appliances and fixtures for all facilities upgrades and retrofits

11. Continue interior and exterior lighting retrofits including occupancy and daylight sensors

12. Retrofit exterior lighting with Dark Skies compliant fixtures

13. Investigate using custodial to power down copiers, fax machines and other office equipment at close of business to reduce “phantom” electrical load

14. As determined by energy audit and cost savings, add insulation, weatherize building envelope, and replace windows

15. When replacing or resurfacing roofs, consider cool or green roof applications

16. Eliminate unused or underused buildings from county inventory

Strategy F2: Minimize energy use – new construction

The construction of new facilities contains the potential to include energy efficiency action items in the most cost-efficient manner possible. Fundamental building design, including site location and facility site orientation, can have a tremendous impact on the base energy load required to light, heat, and cool a facility. The inclusion of green building design from the outset of a project, by using an integrated design process, will ensure the greatest efficiencies and minimize costs needed to meet higher energy requirements.

1. Ensure new facility design team includes personnel with Certified Energy Manager and LEED AP, Green Globes, or other green building certifications

2. Utilize Integrated Design Process to make energy efficiency and green construction techniques integral to the planning process

3. Where possible, locate new Kane County facilities on infill sites and close to existing motorized and nonmotorized transportation networks

4. Include Energy Star Certification as a specification for design and construction of new Kane County facilities

5. Specify utilization of a Green Building rating system for design of new facilities such as LEED or Green Globes

6. Design new Kane County facilities with a site orientation to maximize natural light and passive solar gain

7. Utilize daylighting whenever possible to minimize need for artificial lighting

8. Maximize natural ventilation and consider geothermal, solar thermal, and other passive HVAC technologies

Strategy F3: Consider purchase or installation of Renewable Energy for County Facility Energy Use

The cost for Renewable energy systems has changed significantly since the outset of the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Funding for system development, deployment, and pilot projects has resulted in systems which have dropped in price and increased in reliability. While cost-effective energy efficiency projects should always be given priority in order to reduce the base load of electricity needed to operate a facility, renewable systems can also be considered to remove the dependence on grid-produced electricity and lower monthly energy costs.

Action Items:

1. Research feasibility of renewable energy project on County property

2. Conduct pilot renewable energy project on County property


Water supply and water use is a key focal point in planning for sustainable operations. As a leader in sustainability, Kane County will continue to lead water efficiency efforts, including effective water demand management.

Strategy F4: Improve water efficiency

Action Items:

1. Include water use in Phase II facility audits

2. Maintain water data in Energy Star Portfolio Manager

3. Prepare quarterly Energy Star Portfolio Manager reports including water use

4. Use energy audit to identify building(s) to pursue water efficiency improvements

5. Develop building-specific water efficiency goals

6. Update plumbing fixtures, including faucets, toilets, and showerheads with WaterSense labeled products or better

7. Investigate water filtration systems to replace bottled/ delivered water service

8. Check for leaks in water fixtures and plumbing systems and make necessary repairs

9. Design new facilities with water efficient systems and fixtures


Operations and maintenance of County buildings and grounds can generate a significant amount of waste. As these products flow through County facilities, there are a number of opportunities to reduce waste and its associated impacts as well as to reduce costs and improve efficiency. An integrated waste management paradigm is based on a hierarchy designed to build more strategic preventive management practices into the waste management process. This integrated approach prioritizes prevention, minimization, the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) and energy recovery over landfill disposal.

Strategy F5: I​mprove opportunities for recycling and waste minimization

Expansion of the operational recycling program through an evaluation and increase of conveniently placed bins for both recycling and waste will promote and improve employee understanding and participation. Analyzing efficiency and setting goals for waste minimization will benefit all levels of county operation, saving money and resources. Responsible recycling of computers and electronic equipment and proper disposal of hazardous materials from County offices are important elements of operational waste management.

Action Items:

1. Increase number of bins in county offices, and optimize locations to create a unified program throughout

2. Install recycling guideline posters above common areas recycling bins

3. Create staff waste reduction and reuse education program

4. Require waste haulers (waste/recycling; landscaping) to provide collection data in bi-annual reports

5. Develop county office equipment and supplies surplus exchange program

6. Conduct a feasibility study for closed loop recycling of food waste at the Adult and Juvenile Justice Centers and the Animal Control facility

7. Create statute book recycling and confidential file management recycling program

8. Create and promote procedures to improve employee understanding of and participation in computer and electronics recycling

9. Join the State Elec​​tronics Challenge to track green purchasing and e-cycling successes of the Kane County Information Technology Department

10. Create and promote procedures to improve employee understanding of and participation in proper disposal of hazardous materials


For More Information ...


The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) developed and maintains the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system for new construction and existing buildings.


The Green Building Initiative (GBI) developed and maintains the Green Globes green building rating system for new construction and existing buildings.


ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. Portfolio Manager is an interactive energy management tool that allows tracking and assessment of energy and water consumption across a portfolio of buildings in a secure online environment.


WaterSense is a partnership program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which identifies water-efficient products, new homes, and services. Products and services that have earned the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least 20 percent more efficient without sacrificing performance.

"What Is Integrated Solid Waste Management?"

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2002 fact sheet.