Chicago Launches Green Building Retrofit Program

Chicago’s new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, is getting off to a good, green start by announcing a program that will retrofit 100 of the city’s buildings to increase their energy efficiency.

Those buildings will get upgrades such as lighting, mechanical equipment and water conservation technology through the "Guaranteed Energy Performance Contracting" program.

The city will identify energy guzzlers that could most benefit from upgrades such as City Hall, the Harold Washington Library, the 911 center, various police and fire stations, and elementary and high schools.

In total, the retrofits will cover about 6.5 million square feet and save taxpayers between $4 million to $5.7 million a year, while reducing the city’s carbon footprint, and creating 375 direct jobs and 1,100 manufacturing and related jobs. 

To fund the program, Chicago plans to raise $40 million in private financing. It can do that because it will implement the program through Energy Service Companies, which guarantee the energy savings.

Energy retrofits at the Richard J. Daley Center have been saving the city $600,000 a year, and in 2009, the Sears Tower began a $350 million energy retrofit to reduce electricity use 80% and water use 40%.

Pike Research estimates the energy retrofit market in the US will hit $400 billion in the coming years.

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Comments on “Chicago Launches Green Building Retrofit Program”

  1. Anna Efficiency

    Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR program marked the midpoint of its 2011 National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings. In the first six months of the competition alone, the competitors together have saved more than $3.7 million on utility bills and prevented 18,500 metric tons of CO2 emissions – that’s equal to the electricity used by 2,300 homes annually.

    Teams from 245 buildings around the country are going head-to-head in this year’s ENERGY STAR National Building Competition to see who can reduce their energy use the most. The building with the largest percentage reduction in energy use, adjusted for weather and the size of the building, will be recognized as the winner in November.

    Today EPA announced the Top Contenders for each of twelve building categories, including Boston’s Colonnade Hotel, the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, Office Depot in Plano, Texas, and a parking garage at the University of Central Florida.

    There’s a lot we can all do in our own workplaces, as well. Actor John Corbett, the 2011 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition spokesperson, offers some tips in a new video posted today on the ENERGY STAR site

    ENERGY STAR was started by EPA in 1992 as a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Today, the ENERGY STAR label can be found on commercial and industrial buildings as well as new homes and more than 60 different kinds of products that meet strict energy-efficiency specifications set by EPA. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved about $18 billion on their energy bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the annual emissions of 33 million vehicles.

    For a list of National Building Competition Top Contenders and complete midpoint results for all competitors:


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