Sustainable Lake County

Lake County is committed to promoting and sustaining a safe, healthy, vibrant, and environmentally responsible county and community as shown in our Strategy for a Sustainable Lake County (PDF). Visit the Lake County website for more information.

Featured Story

Strategic Plan Update: Promoting a Sustainable Environment

One of the most exciting goals as part of Lake County’s strategic plan is to promote a sustainable environment. Watch this video to learn more about three strategies and projects that agencies and departments are implementing to work toward that goal. This includes a food scrap composting pilot program at the County Jail, conducting energy audits at several county facilities to make operations more efficient, and the county’s partnership with a third party consultant to review the proposed Foxconn development in Wisconsin and related adjacent improvements due to concerns of adverse impacts on flooding and water quality along the Des Plaines River in Lake County.

Waste & Recycling

The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) set a goal of increasing Lake County’s recycling rate from 48% to 60% by 2020, which requires going beyond traditional recycling of cans and bottles. Municipalities and SWALCO offer a growing number of recycling options that you can participate in to dispose of paint, electronics, clothing, shoes, household chemical waste, and food scraps. View SWALCO's Where do I Recycle This? directory.

Take Action: You can prevent items from ending up in Lake County's landfills by disposing of them properly. Find the most convenient disposal option for you by visiting SWALCO's Recycling Guidelines page.

SWALCO clothing bin locations


Six communities have already met SWALCO’s 2020 waste diversion goal!


34 Lake County communities have reduced residential waste streams 


Energy Efficiency

Using energy efficiently can not only save you money, but it can also help reduce the amount of local air pollutants. 

Take Action: Residents can make efficiency improvements that can generally help reduce their energy costs by 15% to 30% – that’s $450 to $900 per year! 


Retrofitting of LED lamps in existing traffic signals throughout the county is complete, reducing power consumption and utilizing long-life lamps for low ongoing maintenance costs.

The Illinois Green Business Certification program helps businesses determine best green practice opportunities to save money, reduce waste, and increase efficiency. Learn more by visiting their website.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy resources can help reduce pollution and greenhouse gases, foster a more energy-independent and sustainable Lake County, and save you money. Did you know that Lake County residents can receive incentives and grants for renewable energy installations?
Take Action: You have a choice on who provides the supply portion of your electric service. By shopping for electric supply, you may be able to save money, find suppliers that use green/renewable energy resources, or get different types of services. 

Local Food

Eating local food helps our local economy, increases quality of life by providing high-quality food, and reduces food miles and gas emissions which helps the environment. Learn more about the local food industry:

Take Action:  You can buy local food at a farmers market, or grow your own food by starting your own garden (PDF) or joining a community garden.


Lake County has more than 200 lakes and rivers, and over 100 beaches. Here are some simple things you can do to protect this valuable resource. 

Take Action: Keep harmful contaminants out of our water by:

You can also save water and protect the environment by using WaterSense labeled products in your home, yard, and business. 

Quality Drinking Water

Lake County is committed to providing a reliable and sustainable supply of quality drinking water to County residents. Public Works reports a 9.5% decrease in water use over the past few years!


Residents, homeowners associations, and corporate campuses can learn more about stormwater management features such as rain gardens, bioswales, and detention basins by visiting Lake County’s Stormwater Management Commission website.


By supporting a sustainable transportation system, you can help reduce your fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, save money, and help reduce traffic congestion. 

Take Action: Sustainable transportation in Lake County is possible by following a few simple principles. 

  • Consider shopping local, opting to take transit, riding your bike, or walking instead of using your car.

  • Start a carpool network at your office or join a ridesharing network.

  • Suggest teleconferencing as an option to in-person meetings.

There are several networked charging stations in Lake County. Find out where there is a charging station near you. 

DOT’s 10 signal coordination and timing, or SCAT, projects are reducing idling times and CO2 emissions by 1,920 metric tons per year. That is equivalent to taking 404 cars off Lake County roads per year.


cars off Lake County roads


Sustainable land use preserves our landscape, conserves natural resources, and provides safety and well-being to the community. Lake County’s Planning Building and Development Department encourages this approach through the Sustainability Chapter of the Lake County Regional Framework Plan. In addition, the Lake County Forest Preserve’s Strategic Conservation Planning  provides guidance to smart development and livable cities that balances the built environment with the natural one.

Take Action: You can help shape the future of Lake County's development and conservation measures. 

  • Residents: Find out how you can help conserve your part of Lake County through the Conservation@Home program or by enjoying Lake County's Forest Preserves.

  • Businesses: Corporate Campuses are part of Lake County’s habitat complexes by providing food, shelter, and space for local flora and fauna.  Lake County’s Native Landscape Design Guidelines is just one resource available for Lake County businesses interested in incorporating plant species native to northern Illinois.

The presence of wild animals in urban areas reflects their ability to adapt to human development. Learn more about solutions to commonly encountered wildlife and keep up with Lake County Forest Preserves current conservation projects by visiting their website. Lake County is home to more endangered and threatened species than any other county in Illinois, including:

Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid

Least Weasels

Blanding's Turtle

Smooth Green Snake

Air Quality

Understanding the quality of the air you breathe can impact your health. Learn more about air quality measures including radon testing, monitoring ozone levels, and asthma triggers.   

Take ActionLearn how you can take small steps to improve air quality in and around our homes.

The graph above shows the five air pollutants tracked by the State of Illinois in Lake County. Of particular note is the 50% reduction in sulfur dioxide from 2005 to 2014, and the roughly 40% reduction in nitrogen oxide between 2004 and 2014. View the State of Lake County's Air Quality Report.

Sustainability Resources



The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County implements a regional approach to solid waste management which addresses the economic, political, and environmental issues in Lake County.

Conserve Lake County works to preserve and take care of open space and farmland to keep Lake County a great place to live.

Openlands unites the people and resources of the diverse Chicago metropolitan region around the goal of land and water protection, providing a healthy vibrant space to live and work.

Contact us with any questions or concerns.

Lake County's Strategic Plan serves as a road map for our county government over the next several years.

Chicago Wilderness is a regional alliance leading strategy to preserve, improve, and expand nature and quality of life. 

The Forest Preserve Districts are designed to protect large natural areas and provide passive recreation.

The EPA works to protect human health and the environment.  

The Sierra Club is for activists, environmentalists, and explorers who are passionate about the environment.