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.

Signal Study Shows Reduction in Vehicle Delays, Fuel Usage

In 2016, the Lake County Division of Transportation studied four travel corridors to look at signal timings during peak travel times in the morning, mid-day, and in the evening. The overall results of the study show that technology enhancements, adjusting the signal timings, and coordinating the signals through the Lake County PASSAGE system led to a reduction in vehicle delays (477.8 hours) and a reduction in fuel consumption (318.2 gallons) per day. Not only does this save money, approximately $3.1 million a year, but this also means less time stuck in the car and more time doing the things you want to do. An added benefit of the study was a reduction in CO2 emissions by 566 metric tons per year.  Learn more about the study.

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

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

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34 Lake County communities have reduced residential waste streams 

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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! 

Commercial and non-profit businesses looking to retrofit lighting and HVAC systems can take advantage of the following state, utility and foundation energy efficiency grants and rebates: NicorPeoples GasComEd and, ICECF.

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. 
 

There are currently more than 260 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in ILLINOIS, employing 3,800 people.

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In 2014, Illinois installed 6 MW of solar electric capacity, enough solar energy to power 8,000 homes.


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In 2014, $16 million was invested in solar installations in Illinois, a 165% increase over the previous year.


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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.

Water

 
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.

Transportation

 
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 45 networked charging stations in Lake County.

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.

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cars off Lake County roads

There are 9,156 electric vehicles registered in Illinois, 11% of which are registered in Lake County. Given that Lake County’s population is 5.5% of Illinois’ total population, the adoption rate of electric vehicles here is pretty impressive.

Land

 
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

Piping Plover

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.

The majority of emission sources in Lake County are from gas-powered vehicles, a factor that went into Lake County’s decision to test pilot electric vehicles in its fleet system in 2015, as well as retrofit diesel engines in 2006 and 2010.

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Featured Story

Lake County Hosts 8th Annual Deicing Workshops

Winter in the Midwest brings cold temperatures, snow and ice. To make sure our roads, sidewalks and parking lots are safe for motorists and pedestrians, we have to employ a variety of snow and ice prevention and removal tactics – including the use of road salt. Lake County hosts deicing workshops every year in an effort to help reduce the environmental impacts of snow removal operations.

    More than 200 snow removal operators from both public and private agencies attended the deicing workshops in October to learn how to use their salt supply effectively, save money, and reduce environmental impacts. The event consists of classroom instruction and a winter maintenance expo where attendees can test new methods and see product demonstrations.


    The Lake County Health Department Environmental Services Division and the Stormwater Management Commission (SMC) are closely monitoring the impacts of salt usage on local lakes, streams, rivers, and groundwater. To learn more about sensible salting practices, visit the SMC website.

    Sustainability Resources

     

    SWALCO

    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.

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