November 1, 2019

Chicago Ranked as the Greenest Place to Work in America

For the third year in a row, Chicago leads the country in certified green office space

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

For the third year in a row, Chicago is the nation’s leader in energy-efficient office buildings according to the 2019 National Green Building Adoption Index published by CBRE Group Inc., Maastricht University and the University of Guelph. The city added a near two percent gain over 2018, outranking San Francisco, Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Los Angeles.

“Chicago’s commitment to environmental prosperity and climate health continues to set the trend for the entire nation,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Through the Energy Rating System, which builds upon our Energy Benchmarking Ordinance, Chicago is placing energy efficiency at the forefront of business in Chicago. Through these initiatives and committed companies, we can continue to improve the environment and every community across the City.”

This year marks the sixth annual U.S. Green Building Adoption Index by CBRE and Maastricht University. Researchers analyzed green-certified office space across America’s 30 largest office markets and found the highest in the index’s history at 42.2%, up from 41.9% from 2018. “Green” office buildings hold either an EPA ENERGY STAR® label, USGBC LEED certification, or both.  The 2019 Green Building Adoption Index shows that across the 30 largest U.S. office markets, about 4,879 buildings have now been certified as “green,” the highest total in the index’s history.

“With a mix of old and new buildings, Chicago is a wonderful example of how cities can implement green building practices in both new construction and retrofits,” said Spencer Levy, chairman of Americas Research for CBRE and senior economic advisor. “These efforts not only benefit the city and the environment, but also deliver real costs savings to owners and investors. These buildings are also more attractive to tenants, as many corporate users seek out these properties for their operational and social benefits. As Chicago has discovered, being a leader in green building pays off on many levels.

According to the report, 71.1% of the office buildings, in Chicago, over 167 million square feet, are market-certified green. Twenty percent of all Chicago office buildings are green for a total of 1,411 buildings. San Francisco claimed the number two spot with 67.5 % of all space green certified, and Atlanta maintained third with 59.3 %. Minneapolis/St. Paul moved up to fourth place with 57.1%, pushing Los Angeles down to round out the top five with 56.6% total green square feet.

Earlier this year, the City of Chicago set a goal of transitioning to 100% renewable energy in buildings across the city by 2035. To push toward this goal, the city has adopted a large building rating system, which officially launched in August. The Chicago Energy Rating System uses existing and publicly available energy data to rate buildings over 50,000 square feet, approximately 3,400 properties across every neighborhood in Chicago. Large buildings are some of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in Chicago and the nation. The new rating system expands the city’s existing Energy Benchmarking Ordinance, which requires buildings over 50,000 square feet to gather annual energy use information and report the data once per year.

Last week, Chicago bestowed its annual Retrofit Chicago awards to 14 building teams that are showing excellence in energy efficiency. All Retrofit Chicago participants commit to a goal of reaching a 20% energy reduction within five years of joining. A total of 38 building teams have now hit that target, with three of those properties going beyond the 20% target to achieve a 35% or higher reduction. The program now boasts 99 member participants, up from 85 members in February 2018.

All 99 members have collectively reduced energy use by 19%, equal to a cost savings of over $19 million per year, up from a 14.5% reduction and $10.6 million savings in 2018. These improvements have led to carbon reductions equivalent to taking over 30,000 cars off the road each year.

The New Members joining the Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge Since February 2018 are:

  • 181 West Madison Street
  • The Richard J. Daley Center
  • The Adler Planetarium
  • 150 North Wacker Drive
  • The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago Headquarters
  • 401 North Michigan Avenue
  • 200 North Dearborn Street
  • Presidents Plaza
  • Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago
  • The University of Chicago Law School
  • Ratner Athletics Center at the University of Chicago
  • Searle Chemistry Laboratory at the University of Chicago
  • Westhaven Park Tower Condominium Association (100 N. Hermitage Avenue)

More information on the Energy Benchmarking Ordinance can be found by visiting, and information about the rating system is online at Details on the Retrofit Chicago program are available at