Illinois County Partnership with InsideIQ Member Firm Saves Energy, Reduces Operating Costs, Earns Recognition
WOODSTOCK, Ill. — November 10, 2015 — In July of 2015 McHenry County in northeastern Illinois earned an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACO) honoring the innovative, sustainable practices the county implemented that expand energy efficiency, education and conservation programs. On October 27, 2015 McHenry County was also recognized for their efforts by winning the Governor’s Sustainability Award. Alpha Controls & Services, based in Rockford, is the county’s contract partner providing a variety of services that facilitate energy efficiency and savings. Alpha Controls & Services, a specialist in building automation, access control and energy management systems, is an EPA Energy Star Partner and member of InsideIQ Building Automation Alliance, an international alliance of independent building automation contractors.
McHenry County Judicial Center
Since 2009, McHenry County has embarked on making county buildings energy efficient and sustainable following five key objectives: reducing carbon footprint, improving awareness, creating behavioral change, avoiding operating expenses and using buildings as learning environments. As the county’s energy efficiency partner, Alpha Controls & Services has assisted McHenry County in reducing annual utility costs from almost $1.7 million to less than $1.2 million, an overall operating cost savings of 30 percent. Additionally, annual greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 12 percent, which has a positive environmental impact equivalent to removing more than 270 cars off the road per year. Energy efficiency improvements have both reduced the county’s carbon footprint and created value for taxpayers.
To accomplish all this, the county leveraged $2.4 million dollars from the federal government’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for “shovel ready” projects to improve aging, inefficient facilities. The county also created an innovative finance program that applies dollars from utility rebates and energy savings so that energy efficiency projects are perpetually self-funded. The funds have been used for 16 energy savings projects, including lighting retrofits, window replacements, new boilers, hot water heaters, and solar panels. McHenry County has also leveraged technology to meet the program objectives by replacing standalone and proprietary building automation systems with open protocol systems, installing web-accessible graphical interfaces in each building, and using building analytics technology.
“These projects promote sound financial management and governmental accountability by creating measurable, cost saving results,” said John Hadley, director of facilities for McHenry County “The projects also address future building standards by exceeding existing minimum requirements for all new technology that has been installed. The county incorporates new technology and applications, such as wireless control technology and innovative control strategies into its existing facilities. As a result working conditions in county buildings have improved. McHenry County has achieved an Energy Star label for the Treasurers Building with two additional facilities on track to becoming Energy Star facilities.
“Our first challenge as we considered the needs of McHenry County was putting together a plan, in cooperation with John Hadley, that addressed the county’s infrastructure priorities without putting a strain on budgets, as there was no additional revenue available. Then we had to sell the project to the county board during hard economic times,” said Frank Rotello, CEO of Alpha Controls & Services. “Once we cleared those hurdles, we had to deal with the operational challenges of retrofitting equipment and controls into existing, occupied facilities, which is always difficult. Fortunately, we had great cooperation from stakeholders that allowed for a smooth construction process and minimal disruption in occupied spaces during the installation of new equipment.”
“Customers like McHenry County trust members of InsideIQ for complex projects because our member firms are leaders in building automation, energy management and security integration,” said Leroy Walden, president of the InsideIQ Building Automation Alliance. “InsideIQ firms cooperate in educational programs and share best practices in order to have expertise in the latest technology and building control applications so we can provide the best solutions for our customers.”
In keeping with its objectives, the county administration building serves as learning environment to create awareness and encourage sustainable use and resource practices. For example, a Green Touch Screen was installed in the lobby so that staff and visitors can view energy efficient operations of the solar panels on the roof of the building. The Green Account the county created to finance energy efficiency and sustainability projects bridges the gap between capital investment and maintenance budgets. This not only provides McHenry County with a method to perpetually regenerate funding for future projects but also establishes a foundation for a sustainable future that is measurable, responsible, and effective.
The National Association of Counties’ (NACo) annual Achievement Award Program is a non-competitive awards program that honors innovative, effective county government efforts that enhance services for residents. Awards are given in 21 categories reflecting the vast, comprehensive services counties provide.
The Illinois Governor's Sustainability Award recognizes private and public organizations in Illinois that have implemented outstanding and innovative sustainable techniques or technologies, demonstrating a commitment to sustaining our environmental, social and economic health.
InsideIQ Building Automation Alliance is an organization comprised of independent commercial building and facility automation companies representing common automation and security system platforms. Our member firms across North America, Europe and Australia share best practices among more than 5,200 employees at over 110 locations. Members specialize in the design and implementation of facilities and process control systems, systems integration, enterprise security systems, facilities maintenance services, energy services, and the representation of other value-added products and services. The largest independent organization of its kind, InsideIQ member companies provide consistent applications, coordination, and support for commercial facility owners. More information is available online at www.insideiq.org.
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Michael Burns & Associates, Public Relations