Sod is planted close to the building, but much of the area surrounding Lake County's new permitting facility in Libertyville is less manicured by design.
Rain gardens and bioswales filled with native plants also are an integral part of the landscape of the county's greenest building to date.
During a tour Friday, county board members even exercised their green thumbs, plunking sedum, phlox and rebeccia into 8 inches of special lightweight soil on what will be an 8,000-square-foot green roof.
Because of the cost, county officials opted not to seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design designation, the primary national standard for measuring "green" buildings.
But dozens of features that would have contributed to that designation were incorporated in the $19 million facility set among a cluster of county buildings west of Milwaukee Avenue and north of Winchester Road.
Rain gardens and other features are meant to absorb rainfall, filter pollutants and eliminate stormwater runoff that can contribute to flooding.
Extensive use of glass, a white reflective roof and pinpoint computer-controlled heating and cooling systems are among the features expected to be as much as 15 percent more energy efficient than any other county facility.
The building also is intended as an example to builders or developers who come in for permits.
"What we want is to be able to point these things out and say, 'It can be done,'" said Phil Rovang, the county's director of planning, building and development.
But what will happen inside the building is intended to be as much of a model as the building construction.
Major permitting functions, now scattered at various sites, will be combined side by side in a "one-stop shop" operation. The new process is described as integrated, streamlined and efficient.
"This place, you sit down and they all come to you," said County Board Chairman Suzi Schmidt.
About 117 staffers from Rovang's department, the Stormwater Management Commission, and the health department's environmental services and the health and public works department laboratories will share the new facility.
"This is the single biggest complaint we get. Permits," said Steve Carlson, a county board member from the Gurnee area. "The frustration of getting permits launched a political career - mine."
The new process is expected to make it easier for residents doing home projects, for example, and larger projects will move more quickly from planning to completion.
The new facility also will free up space at the county building in Waukegan for Lake County state's attorneys office staff, and will save on rents and leases, such as the $100,000 per year the Stormwater Management Commission paid to rent office space elsewhere in Libertyville.