Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that twelve additional buildings have joined the Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge, expanding the program to 62 buildings and 43 million square-feet – making it one of the largest voluntary efficiency programs in the country. Current participants are already generating more than $6.4 million in annual savings through a commitment to improve whole-building energy efficiency by at least 20 percent within five years of joining. To build on this success, Mayor Emanuel has committed to expanding the total number of Chicago Energy Challenge building participants to 80 by mid-2017.
“The Energy Challenge moves the City of Chicago and its residents forward by reducing costs for building owners, cutting carbon pollution, and putting people to work in 21st-century jobs,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Working together to create and apply common-sense energy-saving initiatives like this one is a true win-win that makes our environment safer and our economy stronger for every Chicagoan.”
Through 2015, Chicago Energy Challenge participants reduced weather-normalized energy use by 11.7 percent, an improvement from the previous year’s 7 percent reduction. This includes 90 million kilowatt-hours saved per year and represents 70,000 metric tons in avoided greenhouse gas emissions - equivalent to removing 14,000 cars from the road. Progress to-date results from a combination of energy-efficient technology, operational improvements and tenant engagement to reduce energy use.
“For 126 years, the Salvation Army of Metropolitan Chicago has provided services and programs to support youth, adults, and families while strengthening communities throughout Chicago,” Charles H. Smith, Lt. Colonel and Divisional Commander with the Salvation Army said. “Tracking and sharing our facilities’ energy use is uncovering opportunities for energy and cost savings, and we are proud to take the next step by committing to 20 percent energy reduction at our Metropolitan Divisional Headquarters building.”
Program participation has quadrupled since Mayor Emanuel launched this effort in 2012 with former US Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu. Formerly named the Retrofit Chicago’s Commercial Buildings Initiative, the program was renamed the Chicago Energy Challenge to reflect cross-sector participation by hotels, universities, cultural and faith-based institutions, and multifamily residential buildings. The Challenge is a key component of Retrofit Chicago, a voluntary leadership program to encourage, support and celebrate energy savings in municipal, commercial, institutional and residential buildings throughout the City. In doing so, these programs provide opportunities for buildings to access utility incentives, share efficiency lessons and receive facility-specific technical support through the City and its partners.
The Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge is a collaboration of the City of Chicago, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, City Energy Project, the Institute for Market Transformation, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Alliance to Retrofit Chicago Higher Education, the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. The program draws on sponsorship and technical support from The Joyce Foundation, World Business Chicago, BOMA/Chicago, Sieben Energy Associates, AECOM and Seventhwave. To-date, program participants have received millions of dollars in energy utility incentive funding through ComEd and Peoples Gas to support efficiency improvements.
The work of the Chicago Energy Challenge has been bolstered by the City’s Building Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance, which calls on Chicago’s largest commercial, institutional, and residential properties to track, verify and report whole-building energy use. Last year, 1,840 commercial, institutional and residential buildings participated in Chicago Energy Benchmarking. These buildings span 614 million square feet, encompass 20 percent of citywide building energy use, and represent all 77 Chicago community areas.
By improving energy performance to the 50th or 75th percentile among similar properties, these buildings could save $100-184 million in annual energy costs and avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 167,000-306,000 cars from the road. Investment to achieve these reductions could produce as many as 2,000 local jobs. These findings are part of the City of Chicago’s Energy Benchmarking report, which can be found at www.CityofChicago.org/EnergyBenchmarking.
In May, the US Department of Energy and CoStar Group announced a partnership to increase visibility of building energy performance by incorporating data from efforts like Chicago Energy Benchmarking. This collaboration underscores Mayor Emanuel’s goal of unlocking savings opportunities through information, transparency and energy efficiency leadership. CoStar Group is a leading provider leading provider of commercial real estate information and is the parent company of Chicago-based Apartments.com.
Newly-Announced Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge Participants: