Chicago’s Building Energy Programs

The City of Chicago adapted energy efficiency policies for both commercial and residential buildings to support both its mitigation and adaptation goals. Waste heat from energy consumption has been estimated to account for about one-third of the urban heat island effect, in some US cities, and energy efficiency policies can be an effective strategy and mitigating these effects.1 Waste heat is vented into the atmosphere and contributes to higher temperatures in urban environments.  Energy reporting and disclosure is a way to encourage energy efficiency upgrades that could contribute to reducing urban heat islands in cities. Flexibility allowed under the City's building code allows for upgrades and retrofits to buildings to increase energy efficiency and decrease waste heat from buildings.  

Chicago adopted three ordinances to encourage energy efficiency upgrades that could also contribute to a reduction in waste heat:

  • Building Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance, adopted in 2013, to require reporting of building energy use data for buildings larger that 50,000 sq. ft. (less than 1% of buildings that account for approximately 20% of total building energy use in the city).   
  • Utility Cost Disclosure Ordinance, also adopted in 2013, requiring disclosure of residential energy costs when a home is listed for sale through a multiple listing service (MLS).  
  • Energy Conservation Code, adopted in 2008, to amend the City's building code to allow for innovative approaches for increasing energy efficiency in buildings.


Publication Date: September 2013

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  • Laws

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