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Vernon Hills Park District's Solar Success Story

October 26, 2022

Project Highlights

Location: Vernon Hills, Illinois

Industry: Local Government

Topic: Sustainability, Efficiency, Decarbonization, Energy Services, Financial Solutions, Solar,

Vernon Hills Park District Improves Sustainability and Reduces Energy Spend through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Trane


Located in Chicago’s northern suburbs, the Vernon Hills Park District encompasses more than 400 acres that house 5 facilities, 21 developed parks, and 25 playgrounds. The district sought to drive down energy costs and increase sustainability throughout its park system by generating a minimum of 50 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources.

Park district leaders sought a turnkey provider to help scope, manage, and validate the implementation of a solar solution that would deliver on their goals. Trane’s understanding of financing tools, available rebates, and incentives like the Illinois state-led “Illinois Shines” program assisted in the development of the solar project.

Field of solar panels


Vernon Hills Park District selected Trane for the solar project development and installation. Park district leadership appreciated Trane’s holistic approach, and that Trane was more than an equipment provider. Trane collaborated with Vernon Hills to provide full-service, consultative collaboration that delivered a complete plan and enabled problem-solving throughout the project to achieve the best possible outcomes. 

Increased efficiency and reduced costs with addition of renewable solar generation

Understanding the goals and desired outcomes Vernon Hills was seeking, Trane completed a site assessment to evaluate the best placement and size for the solar solution. All aspects of the project were carefully considered to generate the optimal amount of energy, while still meeting local codes and regulations. Based on the assessment, Trane installed a new 122.4 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system onto the roof of the park district’s maintenance building to help decrease its overall energy consumption footprint and achieve the goal of transitioning to at least 50 percent renewable power generation.  

“Trane served as our single turnkey provider throughout the entirety of the project,” said Vernon Hills Park District superintendent, James Kim. “Their expertise on everything from the initial assessment to design, engineering, and installation instilled confidence that the project was going to be completed to the highest standard.”

Leveraging a Power Purchase Agreement meant no up-front capital costs

Park district leadership worked with Trane to determine the best funding options for the project. They knew they wanted to take advantage of incentives from the Illinois Shines program, which offers rebates for solar project installations throughout the state.

However, they didn’t want to invest a large sum of up-front capital. By using a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), Vernon Hills was able to secure the benefits of solar without an up-front expenditure by agreeing to purchase the energy from the solar project over time, enjoying savings from the start.  

The PPA structure allowed Vernon Hills to take advantage of the Illinois Shines incentive program, a federal investment tax credit, and local utility ComEd’s distributed generation rebate, which reduced their energy rate and enabled the project to be delivered without investing up-front capital. 


Vernon Hills was able to implement a renewable energy infrastructure strategy that improved the sustainability of the park system and reduced operating costs without up-front capital costs. Generating renewable power on-site resulted in substantial savings for the park district and has allowed the district to exceed its sustainability goals. Since project completion, the park district generates roughly 70 percent of its energy needs from solar.

Not only was Vernon Hills able to reduce electrical consumption, demand, and overall costs, it significantly reduced its carbon footprint. Each year, the project saves more than 153,000KWh, which is the equivalent to:

  • Offsetting 109 metric tons of CO2 emissions
  • Avoiding emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles driven over 269,000 miles
  • Planting 142 acres of clean air-producing trees

“We’ve been able to save substantial money by adding on-site solar generation,” said Kim. “We overproduce throughout the summer, allowing us to even greater benefit from the PPA. And even in our highest usage months, our energy bill is still extremely low."

Project Highlights:

Location: Vernon Hills, Illinois

  • Reduce energy costs and increase sustainability through renewable energy generation
  • Full-service implementation of a 122.4 kW roof mount Solar PV system
  • Benefited from local, state, and federal tax credits, rebates, and incentives
  • Used PPA to fund the project without needing costly up-front capital investment
  • Reduced electrical consumption, demand, and costs
  • Saved over 153,000KWh annually, which is the equivalent to:
    • Offsetting 109 metric tons of CO2 emissions
    • Avoiding emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles driven over 269,000 miles
    • Planting 142 acres of clean air-producing trees
  • Reduced facility carbon footprint to improve sustainability

Renewable Energy Solutions

Taking renewable energy on site goes beyond sustainability