Deborah Stone, Director




TheDepartment of Environment and Sustainability works to improve the quality ofthe environment for all residents of Cook County.


Enforce Cook County Environment and Sustainability Ordinancewithin suburban Cook County and benchmark County building energy use perOrdinance. Implement Illinois EPA cooperative agreements on pollutioncontrol. Carry out State-mandated solid waste planning functions forsuburban Cook County. Administer U.S. EPA, U.S. DOE and other grant agreements. Monitor air quality for the U.S. EPA.

Key Activities and Services

  • Issue about 15,000 annual environmental permits within Suburban Cook County
  • Permit and inspect industrial and commercial process and fuel-burning equipment
  • Permit and inspect asbestos abatement and demolition activities
  • Permit and inspect solid waste facilities
  • Permit and inspect open burning
  • Permit and inspect facilities that store hazardous chemicals
  • Investigate citizen complaints and ordinance violations
  • Prepare solid waste plan for suburban CookCounty
  • Reduce waste in energy, materials and water(Countywide)

Discussion of 2017 Department and Program Outcomes 

The ability for customers to pay online for certificates of operation was added in 2017 in order to improve service for Cook County residents.

Compliance with the County’s requirement for equipment registration permits has shown steady improvement since tracking and a warning and ticketing system was implemented in FY 2016.

There were a total of 9,179 inspections in 2016. The Department had a number of vacancies in 2016 that contributed to fewer inspections than in previous years. Those positions have been filled and the 2017 target was set to reflect the full staffing levels for that year. In 2018 the Department is projecting the number of inspections will remain steady relative to 2017 actual.

In 2017 the department implemented the Environmental Application System (EASy) permit and inspection database to streamline the commercial and industrial inspection and permitting processes. The 2018 cost per inspection will remain consistent with 2017, reflecting rising costs of personnel. In addition to air and land inspections, the Department also operates a laboratory to monitor air quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires 50 audits of air monitors annually in order ensure that the equipment is functioning properly and therefore the data being collected is accurate.

Grants received allowed the Department to assess 30 underused brownfield properties in the Western Suburbs and prepare them for redevelopment, set the stage for the over 75% of County residents who cannot currently benefit from solar to participate in Community Solar, and reach out to suburban residents, especially non-English speaking and elderly, to make sure they are aware of opportunities to save on their energy bills and know how to test their homes for radon. In 2016 we had several very large events in the summer months which led to outreach of more than 3,000 county residents, an average of 82 County residents reached per event. Similar events at which presentations on energy efficiency and ways that homeowners can protect themselves from radon are scheduled throughout the year, with the largest events occurring in the summer.

Grants support some of the Department’s Sustainability work. However, particularly for increasing sustainability of County facilities and operations there is no separate budget for this work. It is carried out by existing personnel. Given that the goal is to integrate sustainability into all activities throughout the County this work will continue and increase with current funding levels.

Budget, Cost Analysis and 2018 Strategic Initiatives and Goals

The Department’s main activities and cost drivers are personnel and related operating costs associated with inspections and implementation of environmental regulations and managing the air monitoring network across the County.

Non-personnel costs are less than 17% of the Department’s budget. They include operation and maintenance of auto equipment, communication services for field inspectors, medical dental and laboratory supplies for the air monitoring network, and similar items. Total non-personnel costs are slightly reduced from 2017.

In 2018, an Illinois EPA grant for some personnel and non-personnel costs of inspections for solid waste facilities will cover some existing costs that were paid for in the General Fund in 2017.

Professional and managerial services are budgeted primarily for required health evaluations of field inspectors, and also for some community services such as Brownfield evaluations to assist communities with economic redevelopment. The latter are reimbursed out of the Solid Waste Special Fund and so are budget-neutral to the General Fund.

Solid waste and asbestos and demolition programs will be added into the EASy database in 2018. This will create efficiencies for customers through improvements such as the ability to apply and pay online.

2018 Strategic Initiatives:

  • Complete a 5-year update of the Cook County Solid Waste Plan (2.5m residents of suburban Cook County)
  • Initiate planning for electronic waste disposal sites that will be required under a new state law, SB1417 (2.5 million residents of suburban Cook County)
  • Launch Enhance Cook County initiative to improve energy efficiency in commercial and public buildings in suburban Cook County
  • Initiate targeted energy saving behavior management within Cook County facilities
  • Expand EASY Phase II Permitting database to Solid Waste, Asbestos and Demolition permits, making the permitting process easier for about 13,802 customers, primarily businesses

Budget and Full Time Employee Data