March 6, 2013

Mayor Emanuel Announces Retrofit Chicago: Commercial Buildings Initiative Doubles In Size

Including new office, hotel, large residential, institutional properties; total program reach to over 28 million square feet

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Today Mayor Emanuel announced 18 new participants in Retrofit Chicago’s Commercial Buildings Initiative, bringing the program’s total reach to over 28 million square feet. This doubles the 14 million square feet represented by the program’s founding 14 participants. The Commercial Buildings Initiative was launched on June 5 by Mayor Emanuel and U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu.

“This expansion of Retrofit Chicago’s Commercial Buildings Initiative highlights the leadership of commercial building owners, managers, and tenants in making Chicago a center of building efficiency and a place where companies are maximizing their ability to compete,” said Mayor Emanuel. “These participants understand that in the modern economic environment, it is critical to operate at maximum efficiency. The commitments that have been made by these 32 organizations will create jobs and foster growth throughout Chicago’s economy, while improving our environment as well.”

Energy efficiency and clean energy comprise one of seven focus areas outlined in Sustainable Chicago 2015, a three-year roadmap to drive sustainability through city operations, in residents’ day-to-day lives, and across our economy.

The Commercial Buildings Initiative is one component of Retrofit Chicago – the City’s cross-sector effort to accelerate energy efficiency in buildings – which also includes energy efficiency efforts in municipal and residential buildings.

Commercial Buildings Initiative participants voluntarily commit to reduce building-level energy use by 20% (below a 2010 baseline) within 5 years of joining the program. Upon achieving this goal, these 18 new participants will save an estimated $5 million per year in energy costs, reducing electricity use by approximately 65 million kilowatt-hours and natural gas use by over 700,000 therms. These actions will also avoid greenhouse gas emissions at a scale comparable to removing 8,500 cars from the road per year. Retrofit activity by these buildings is expected to create more than 100 jobs during the duration of the effort. Participating buildings also agree to begin energy efficiency work within 6 months of joining the initiative, to share progress and efficiency successes, and to serve as an ambassador to other buildings interested in conducting energy efficiency retrofits.

The City, its partners, and technical advisors are providing participating buildings with optional support on a range of topics including opportunity identification and prioritization, tenant engagement, and specific energy-saving technologies. The initiative is also helping to spread the word about participants’ energy efficiency efforts.

The new participants expand the breadth of building age, style, and function reflected by the Commercial Buildings Initiative:


  • Commercial Offices: At 124 years old, The Rookery becomes the oldest building in the program, joining several other examples of the celebrated Chicago School of architecture. The offices at 300 South Riverside, 330 North Wabash Avenue, and 625 North Michigan Avenue are widely-recognized fixtures of Chicago’s skyline and home to prominent corporate tenants. The Harris Bank Buildings represent both century-old historic architecture as well as modern design, with combined heating and cooling systems across more than one building that illustrate potential benefits of district energy. The Merchandise Mart is the largest commercial building in the world; as the home of 1871 digital startup hub, Google, Groupon, and Motorola Mobility, it has recently emerged as a technology hub for the city.
  • Hotels: 8 new hotels are joining 2 founding program participants, enabling additional focus on Chicago’s hospitality sector, which has seen a staggering 5% increase in recent hotel occupancy. With the entry of Hotel Allegro, Hotel Burnham, Hotel Monaco, and Hotel Palomar, Kimpton Hotels has become the parent company with the most properties participating in the program. These hotels are joined by well-known properties operated by First Hospitality Group, including Hampton Inn and Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites, and Hampton Inn Majestic. As Retrofit Chicago’s largest hospitality participant, the historic Hilton Hotel Chicago underscores the scale of this effort.
  • Nonprofit Sector: With this announcement, Retrofit Chicago also welcomes its first non-profit commercial participant, ICA GreenRise Uptown, emphasizing that energy efficiency represents economic and mission-focused opportunities across sectors.
  • Residential and also nonprofit: Originally the manufacturing and research facility for Continental Can Company, the Continental Plaza Apartments is the first large residential property to join Retrofit Chicago. Converted to apartments in 1982, Continental Plaza is undergoing a full range of energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements, including an innovative resident engagement and behavior change program, photovoltaic solar panels and combined heat and power units.
  • Cultural Institution: The first of Chicago’s great cultural institutions to join Retrofit Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium is in the early stages of undertaking a massive energy overhaul aimed at cutting energy consumption by half at the 83-year-old building.

Retrofit Chicago works in close coordination with related energy efficiency efforts, such as the Chicago Green Office Challenge, which engages building tenants to reduce energy use, water use, and waste. The Green Office Challenge recently launched its third round of friendly competition in 2013. Learn more at

This program draws on generous support from Commercial Buildings Initiative partners, including The Natural Resources Defense Council, ComEd, Peoples Gas, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, in partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative. Technical advisors include Shaw Infrastructure and Environment Group, US Equities, Sieben Energy Associates, and Positive Energy Practice. The City is also grateful for program support through The Joyce Foundation, World Business Chicago, and BOMA/Chicago.

In partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the City is launching a new website to highlight and celebrate building participants at Additional information about Retrofit Chicago is available at on the City’s website,


Retrofit Chicago’s Commercial Buildings Initiative

New Office Participants:

  • 300 South Riverside, 300 South Riverside Plaza
  • 330 North Wabash Avenue, 330 North Wabash Avenue
  • 625 North Michigan Avenue, 625 North Michigan Avenue
  • ICA GreenRise Uptown, 4750 North Sheridan Road
  • The Harris Bank Building – West, 115 South LaSalle Street
  • The Harris Bank Building – East / Center, 111 West Monroe Street
  • The Merchandise Mart, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza
  • The Rookery, 209 South LaSalle Street

New Hotel Participants:

  • Fairfield Inn & Suites, 216 East Ontario Street
  • Hilton Hotel Chicago , 720 South Michigan Avenue
  • Hampton Inn Majestic, 22 West Monroe Street
  • Hampton Inn & Suites, 33 West Illinois Street
  • Hotel Allegro Chicago, 171 West Randolph Street
  • Hotel Burnham Chicago, 1 West Washington Street
  • Hotel Monaco Chicago, 225 North Wabash Avenue
  • Hotel Palomar Chicago, 505 North State Street

New Large Residential Participants:

  • Continental Plaza Apartments, 1330 West 76th Street

New Cultural Institution Participants:

  • The John G. Shedd Aquarium, 1200 South Lake Shore Drive

Founding Participants:

  • 224 South Michigan Avenue, 224 South Michigan Avenue
  • 333 North Michigan Avenue, 333 North Michigan Avenue
  • 515 North State Street, 515 North State Street
  • The AT&T Building, 225 West Randolph Street
  • CNA Headquarters, 333 South Wabash Avenue
  • Fifth Third Center, 222 South Riverside Plaza
  • Franklin Center, 227 West Monroe Street & 222 West Adams Street
  • Hyatt Center, 71 South Wacker Drive
  • InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile, 505 North Michigan Avenue
  • The Marquette Building, 140 South Dearborn Street
  • NBC Tower, 454 North Columbus Drive
  • One Financial Place, 440 South LaSalle Street
  • Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, 301 East North Water Street
  • The Wrigley Building, 400-410 North Michigan Avenue