Retrofit Chicago

Retrofit Chicago: Retrofit Chicago is a cross-sector effort led by the Mayor’s Office to drive energy efficiency in municipal, commercial, and residential buildings across the city, which works to save money, reduce carbon emissions, and create jobs. The Residential Partnership unites non-profit groups and utility companies to better connect residents to energy retrofit contractors, free energy upgrades, and equipment rebates. Other customer benefits include free energy assessments with free energy-saving products and installation; rebates for energy-efficient appliances and other products; financing tools such as income qualifying grants for bungalow & vintage homeowners; energy savers loans; and on-bill financing and connection to qualified contractors. 

The City of Chicago has committed to reducing the city’s emissions 80% by 2050. With more than 70% of Chicago’s emissions coming from building energy use, the Retrofit Chicago Commercial Building Program aims to accelerate progress to increase energy efficiency on a voluntary basis. The Program functions by helping the largest private and non-profit buildings save money, increase asset value, drive economic development, and reduce anthropogenic emissions through implementing energy efficiency strategies. 

Retrofit Chicago provides a roadmap for overcoming market barriers across sectors to achieve energy efficiency goals. Through the Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge, participants agree to: (1) reduce energy use by at least 20% within five years of joining the program; (2) track and share energy efficiency progress through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager; and (3) serve as an ambassador to other buildings and companies interested in saving energy. In exchange, the Retrofit Chicago provides technical support, reduced operating costs, access to efficiency incentives through ComEd and Peoples Gas, public recognition, annual awards, and peer learning opportunities.

The program aims to address the impacts of climate change, while also working to ensure more affordable rates for heating and cooling — which costs upwards of $3 billion for Chicago residents and businesses each year. These sustainability objectives are achieved using different strategies and programs for each stakeholder. Retrofit Chicago has made instrumental progress in the reduction of building energy use through customizable solutions. For example, The Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, which operates within the hospitality sector, installed occupancy-controlled thermostats in all 1,214 rooms of the Hotel to cut energy consumption without compromising comfort. Through working with Retrofit Chicago, the Hotel has saved 2.7 million kWh and 15,000 Therms through their digital thermostat system, boiler optimization, guest room upgrades, and steam conversion. 

The Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge was launched in June 2012 by a consortium of public, private, utility, and non-profit partners that committed to taking action to increase energy efficiency by 20%. The Initiative has received support from Commercial Buildings Initiative partners, including The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), The Joyce Foundation, World Business Council, BOMA/Chicago, ComEd, Peoples Gas, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), and the C40 cities Climate Leadership Group.

Publication Date: June 2012

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