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Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced the results of the inaugural Chicago Neighborhood Energy Challenge (CNEC), a six-month pilot competition to reduce energy usage among multifamily and senior living properties in the Humboldt Park and Logan Square neighborhoods. The City partnered with the Hispanic Housing Development Corporation (HHDC), a nonprofit organization that develops affordable housing in Chicago’s working class neighborhoods, to administer the competition that engaged residents of seven properties and which resulted in a 20 percent average reduction in electric, gas and water use for families and property owners, saving a total of $54,000 in energy bills and decreasing the City’s carbon footprint.
“The Chicago Neighborhood Energy Challenge is an example of how bringing the community together can be a powerful way to address real-world challenges,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This groundbreaking program engaged and empowered Chicago residents to address energy usage in their homes, showing them how simple actions can result in real, tangible savings for their families and the environment.”
The six month competition, which included approximately 750 residents across more than 500 units in Humboldt Park and Logan Square, aimed to achieve 5%-10% in energy savings in electricity, gas, and water. During this time, more than 600 residents attended 36 workshops where they learned about different ways they could cut down on energy usage through simple behavior modifications. By the end of the Pilot period, buildings had energy savings of more than 5% in electricity, nearly 10% in gas, and more than 45% in water usage, resulting in a total of $54,000 in overall savings, with each family seeing savings of up to nearly $110 on their energy bills.
“Participating in the competition was an exciting way to learn about energy and how my family and I can make better decisions for the environment,” said Valery Taylor, wife and mother of a teenage daughter, of Diversey Square Apartments. “Learning new, easy steps we can take helped us save on our energy bills and we plan on keeping them up so we continue to save money in the future.”
The winning building, Jorge Hernandez, boasted 34% energy savings and will receive $25,000 to be reinvested into the property, in a manner determined by the residents and property owners. Second and third place buildings, Diversey Square Apartments and Buena Vista saved 22% and 19% in energy usage and will receive $7,500 and $3,500, respectively. In addition, the top energy-saving individuals received $200 and $100 in cash prizes. In total, more than $40,000 in prizes were awarded.
“I am extremely proud of our residents and property managers and the effort they put forth in the first Chicago Neighborhood Energy Challenge,” said Hipolito Roldan, HHDC President. “We are now committed to ensuring we continue these new activities and behaviors, and sharing what we have learned with other residents and family members.”
Enterprise Community Partners provided day-to-day competition management and oversight, with support from the Delta Institute, who led the monthly resident trainings and activities. Clique Studios led messaging and design efforts, including the creation of a competition website where residents could track their energy usage and compare how their efforts measured against past usage, as well as other residents. The University of Chicago conducted the data analysis and will complete an evaluation of the pilot competition, including continued tracking of residents’ energy usage over the next year to determine if the competition was successful in changing energy behavior for the long-term. In addition, over the past year, HHDC has been working with Affordable Community Energy (ACE) to develop innovative ways to finance clean energy improvements in affordable housing.
The lessons learned during the pilot competition will be used to inform the potential launch of future neighborhood challenges and energy efficiency contests in Chicago and across the nation. This pilot builds upon the success of Mayor Emanuel’s efforts to make Chicago more energy efficient through the Sustainable Chicago 2015 action agenda.
CNEC was developed by the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team. Since launching in November 2011, the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team has spearheaded a business license reform ordinance that reduced the number of license categories by 60 percent, launched the Retrofit Chicago Resident Partnership to help home and apartment building owners save thousands of dollars on their energy bills, and helped design the Small Business Center to serve as a one-stop-shop for small businesses. Chicago is one of five cities to receive an Innovation Delivery Team grant as part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Project.