Chicago announced it will cut energy consumption 20% in 24 million square feet of public and private building space as part of the Obama Administration's Better Buildings Challenge.
Over the next five years, Chicago plans to upgrade 10 million square feet of city-owned buildings and 14 million square feet of privately owned buildings that are partnering with the city.
The California's Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) also signed on as a utility partner. It will provide energy efficiency programs that will reach 30 million square feet of its commercial customers by 2015 - the equivalent square footage of 11 Empire State Buildings.
Last year, President Obama launched the initiative to catalyze private sector investments in commercial and industrial building efficiency, create skilled green building jobs, while reducing emissions, utility bills and growing new industries.
The energy to operate buildings in the US costs about $200 billion a year. Making them 20% more energy efficient will save over $40 billion over the next decade for local governments and businesses.
The program challenges CEOs, university presidents, and state and local leaders to reduce their portfolio-wide energy use by 20% by 2020 and to share the results of their strategies.
Over 60 organizations have joined so far, representing 1.6 billion square feet of building space (and 100,000 construction jobs), in addition to 300 manufacturing plants, and a coalition of 25 professional sports teams.
Late last year, Obama updated the program directing all federal agencies to make at least $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades over the next two years.
Another building efficiency program is under the Clinton Climate Initiative Cities program and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.
Better Buildings Challenge website: