February 13, 2018

Mayor Emanuel Releases the 2017 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Report

More than $39 million in cost savings over four years since benchmarking was implemented
Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today released the 2017 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Report. The report reveals that large buildings across Chicago have improved energy performance scores by eight percent from the previous year, and have seen collective savings of more than $39 million over 3 years. More than 2,700 properties spanning nearly 750 million square feet across every neighborhood tracked and reported energy use, as required by the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance.

“The Energy Benchmarking report is a testament to Chicago’s success in saving energy, reducing costs and improving building performance,” said Mayor Emanuel. “While the Trump administration continues to deny the reality that environmental and economic interests go hand in hand, Chicago will continue to invest in initiatives that are proven to improve our environment while supporting the development of 21st century jobs for local residents and businesses.”

The Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance uses the 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score to track energy performance, which takes into account occupancy, operational characteristics and Chicago’s climate zone. The median ENERGY STAR score for all reporting properties in 2017 was 64, a five point increase since 2016. Since the ordinance was implemented, improvements have led to a savings of over $16 million per year in energy costs, and supported an estimated 900 jobs to date.

Energy benchmarking is now part of the standard annual reporting conducted by Chicago’s large buildings, which represent 20 percent of carbon emissions citywide. This year 85 percent of large properties reported energy use in 2017, up from 80 percent in 2016. Emissions from the reporting buildings are down by 19 percent in two years, the equivalent of shutting down a coal-fired power plant for 2 months.

The Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance was passed by City Council in 2013 to unlock energy and cost savings opportunities in buildings over 50,000 square feet. By raising awareness of energy performance through information and transparency, building owners and tenants across Chicago are enabled to make better decisions about how energy is used to power buildings. Less than 1 percent of Chicago’s buildings are over 50,000 square feet, but account for approximately 20 percent of total energy used by all buildings in the city.

These efforts build on the success of the ordinance and Chicago’s strategy to reduce harmful carbon pollution. The Chicago Energy Rating System, which will be implemented in 2019, will be calculated in part by existing ENERGY STAR scores. If all buildings with ENERGY STAR scores below 90 were to improve their scores by only 10 points to earn one additional star in the new Rating, buildings would see savings of over $70 million per year. In addition the investments needed to achieve these savings would generate over 1,000 clean energy jobs.

The rating system imposes no additional cost, and will make energy use information for large buildings easily accessible to Chicagoans while encouraging energy savings. Buildings will receive a zero to four star rating, based on existing and publicly available energy data alongside recent energy improvements. Buildings will be required to post ratings in a prominent location on the property, and share this information at the time of sale or lease listing. Chicago is the first US city to assign buildings an energy performance rating and require properties to post their rating. Recently, Mayor Emanuel named the working group that will advise city officials on details of implementing the system.

The City of Chicago was awarded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award in 2017. The award is given annually to honor organizations that have made outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency and recognized the years of successful implementation of the City’s Energy Benchmarking Ordinance.

In April, the Mayor announced that by 2025 all of Chicago’s public buildings will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. That transition means that eight percent of the city-wide electricity load or 1.8 billion kilowatt hours will come from clean and renewable sources. This follows the 2013 commitment that the City made to eliminating coal from its electricity supply.

Details about the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance and the 2017 Report are at: www.CityofChicago.org/EnergyBenchmarking.