Customizable Energy Analyses Drive Reduction Goals for Chicago Building Owners

In recognizing the enormous energy and cost savings opportunity across 23,000 commercial and industrial buildings and one million residential units, the City of Chicago launched the Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge to help building owners actualize potential savings. The Challenge brings together the public and private community and acknowledges their voluntary leadership in committing large commercial, institutional, or residential properties to a 20 percent reduction in energy use within five years of joining.

Chicago responded to participants’ requests for more direct technical support and applied the an online tool to develop customized economic and energy analyses for 19 Challenge participants. This direct support in the form of an energy audit and resulting Energy Road Map provided building owners with the technical and financial information needed to make the business case to accelerate energy conservation projects.

The Energy Road Maps extend beyond a virtual visualization of facility energy use. Through a robust stakeholder engagement process, building owners, management, third-party technical experts, and other program partners began each building evaluation with a kick-off meeting to identify goals and establish a workplan. From start to finish, these groups met to review findings and provide input. This increased both trust and engagement from all parties, facilitating the process to achieve their 20 percent reduction goal.

Chicago’s Energy Road Maps identified an average of 22 percent annual savings potential across buildings associated with 243 facility-specific energy conservation measures (ECM).  Implementation of these recommended ECMs has the potential to reach $4.8 million in ongoing annual cost reduction with a 10-year IRR of 11 percent and simple payback of approximately seven years.

Since 2012, the Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge program has expanded four-fold to include 76 buildings that span over 51 million square feet.  As of July 2016, program participants reduced energy use by nearly 12 percent, generating annual savings of $6.4 million.

Explore this Implementation Model in the Better Buildings Solution Center to learn more about Chicago’s Energy Road Maps.