NRDC Releases Report Card on Chicago’s Commercial Building Initiative

July 21, 2014 By Karen Henry

chicago-energy-manageThe Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has issued the Retrofit Chicago Commercial Building Initiative Best Practices Report to document approaches taken to accelerate the adoption of energy efficiency improvements in the commercial sector, as well as best practices and key lessons learned in the first two years of Chicago’s Commercial Building Initiative.

The report documented several key accomplishments. Since the initiative’s June 2014 launch, participation has expanded from 14 founding buildings to 48 buildings. Within the first 18 months of the launch, 27 out of 32 participating buildings reduced weather-normalized source energy use by seven percent. By participating in utility energy efficiency programs, buildings have received over $2 million in utility incentives and are saving over 21 million kWh and over $1.5 million annually from implemented projects.

“Retrofit Road Maps,” which contain building-specific strategic recommendations to meet the building’s energy efficiency goals while maximizing internal rate of return and meeting the building’s payback requirements were delivered to 19 participant buildings.

The report outlined several lessons that have been gleaned from the last two years. It found that cross-sector collaboration amount public, private, non-profit and utility partners, with visible mayoral support, can be effective at overcoming commercial market barriers. The report also said that a quick ramp-up period, with pre-identified incentives, resources and support, establishes early momentum and enables participants to understand and access available resources to support energy efficiency actions.

The Commercial Buildings Initiative is one of three components of Retrofit Chicago, a coordinated, cross-sector plan to bring energy efficiency improvements to municipal, commercial and residential buildings throughout the city. Retrofit Chicago’s Commercial Buildings Initiative is a voluntary leadership effort to reduce energy use in commercial buildings larger than 200,000 square feet by at least 20 percent within 5 years. NRDC is a partner in the initiative.

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