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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