Big Energy Savings in Cook County

by Clare Savisky for SUST 210

The City of Chicago has slowly transitioned into a greener city. The third most populous city in the US, Chicago is a large metropolitan area filled with millions of people, thousands of buildings, and many systems of transportation. There have been many green initiatives recommended and started in Chicago, but we need a goal for the whole Chicagoland area. According to multiple websites, from the media to our county government site, Cook County has decided to go green as a collaborative effort. Our first step is energy savings.

Dept of Corrections Facility planned for Cook County IL (source: Sustainable Chicago)

Dept of Corrections Facility planned for Cook County IL (source: Sustainable Chicago)

There is the new project being taken on by Cook County called the Guaranteed Energy Performance Contracting (GEPC) initiative. The project will provide more than $60 million to upgrade two major facilities: the Department of Corrections Complex and the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital Campus. These specific facilities require a lot of energy to run, producing 66% of the greenhouse gas emissions in our county. The GEPC initiative will reduce 20% of their greenhouse gas emissions and save them 20% in energy use. The project will not cause an increase in taxes or decrease in capital funds. After eliminating these high costs, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle is hoping to make the county a “model of sustainability” by making these facilities increasingly sustainable in the long run for future generations. An article on the Sustainable Chicago website has a more detailed explanation of this project.

The GEPC initiative will not only reduce energy usage, it will create a more sustainable environment for the thousands of citizens that use these buildings daily. The success of this project will dictate if it can be used with other facilities that use an unhealthy amount of energy such as college campuses and other hospitals. Besides reconstruction of buildings for modern, energy-saving improvements, facilities like these can find ways to reduce energy use in their daily operations. These behavioral changes are very similar to what individual suburban communities practice, such as the case of Schaumburg, IL. Schaumburg was the top energy-saving suburbs in 2010 by saving about 6.8 million kilowatt-hours of energy throughout the town. It shows that reducing greenhouse gas emissions in your home can impact a community just as positively as reducing them in large facilities.

Each week during the Fall 2014 semester, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 210 Sustainable Future and SUST 240 Waste classes at Roosevelt University will contribute blog posts on urban and suburban sustainability issues to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.

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About Suburban Sustainability

Founder and editor of the Schaumburg's Sustainability Future social media project (est. Earth Day, 2011)
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