As the topic of mandatory energy benchmarking and disclosure heats up across the country, we’ve noticed that many cities are also embracing voluntary energy-efficiency programs. From Miami to Boulder, CO, cities are offering ways for commercial buildings to pledge and stick to energy management goals.
Retrofit Chicago’s Commercial Buildings Initiative is just one example of a citywide initiative to improve energy efficiency in commercial facilities. Seventy (70) percent of Chicago’s greenhouse gas emissions come from producing the electricity needed to heat, cool, and power commercial and residential structures. By cutting consumption by 20% over the next five years, building owners will help the environment while also saving money.
Why retrofit instead of build new? A recent study shows that it can take between 10 and 80 years for the improved operations of a new energy-efficient building to overcome the negative climate change impacts associated with construction. Environmental savings from re-use are between 4% and 46% over new construction when comparing buildings with the same energy performance level.
Program participants, who have buildings larger than 200,000 square feet, voluntarily commit to reducing building-level energy use within five years of joining the program. They agree to:
Reduce energy usage in one or more buildings by at least 20% within five years
- Begin energy efficiency work within six months
- Track progress and share efficiency successes with the public
- Serve as an ambassadors to other buildings interested in increasing energy efficiency
The program currently has 32 participants with 28 million square feet of space in the program. As part of participation, the City of Chicago, its partners, and technical advisors are providing support on energy opportunity identification and prioritization, tenant engagement, and specific energy-saving technologies.
Just a few of the program participants include:
124-year old The Rookery building
- Shedd Aquarium
- Offices at 300 South Riverside, 330 North Wabash Avenue, and 625 North Michigan Avenue
- The Merchandise Mart
- Hotel Allegro, Hotel Burnham, Hotel Monaco, Hampton Inn Majestic, and Hilton Hotel Chicago
- Continental Plaza Apartments
Does your city offer a voluntary energy-efficiency program? Are you participating?