Rock County Supervisor Dave Homan closely follows news about climate change.
As the collection of data and research grows, he finds himself increasingly worried.
That concern has prompted Homan, who once ran a tree farm and nursery, to think about what the county can do to shrink its carbon footprint.
“It doesn’t leave you with a real good feeling,” he said of the research. “There’s gotta be a better path forward.”
Rock County already is trying to be more conscious of its consumption habits, but it can always do more, Homan said.
In 2019, the county hired Venture Architects to replace aging infrastructure in hopes of becoming more energy efficient.
Homan said one place to focus on is lighting, which is one of the biggest expenses for any building. He hopes the county can bring those costs down.
A renovation project to turn the former Pick ‘n Save on Janesville’s south side into a human services complex will add several energy-efficient features to the building, including skylights, light tubes and more efficient boilers. The building will rely mostly on natural light for illumination.
County officials also continue to replace traditional lighting in other buildings with LED options.
The approach is part of a 25/25 initiative the county adopted a few years ago, Homan said. Under the initiative, the county hopes to be at least 25% energy efficient by 2025.
Homan said he has worked with Brent Sutherland, the director of facilities management, on best practices during construction and renovation projects.
He has studied solar energy, but he said solar panels wear out over time because of their exposure to sunlight. However, he’s a big fan of natural light and wants to see it employed in more county facilities.
“The question is, what can we utilize that won’t break the bank?” he said.
“It’s not the overall silver bullet,” Homan said of natural light, “but it’s going to be a monumental saver in our expenses to operate.”
County officials and board members continue to look for the best ways to reduce the county’s carbon footprint without emptying taxpayers’ wallets, he said.
Homan doesn’t have a set timeline for bringing energy proposals forward—yet. He wants others to join him in the process.
“People really do gravitate to (taking) some responsibility of global change. Some people understand it, and some people wish to fight it,” he said.
“We need this help. We all need this help.”