Chicago Energy Efficient Buildings Move City Towards Goals

THE Environmental Defense Fund have announced that two major commercial building operators, JLL and Urban Innovations, have together reduced Chicago’s energy usage by nearly 3 million kilowatt hours annually.

This dramatically moves forward the effort to reach the City's Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings Initiative's stated goal of reducing commercial energy use in participating buildings by 20% in the next five years – a major component of the Sustainable Chicago 2015 plan.

JLL, operator of 77 West Wacker Drive – an iconic Class A building – and Urban Innovations, operator of 12 Chicago Class B buildings, identified and achieved significant energy reductions through both systematic and creative techniques, aided by Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps fellows.

"The City of Chicago, through our Retrofit Chicago initiative, is reducing energy use in commercial, residential and municipal buildings," said Karen Weigert, chief sustainability officer for the City of Chicago.  "JLL and Urban Innovations – along with EDF Climate Corps – are leading the charge by identifying and implementing real, sustainable energy reduction initiatives. Through their work in Retrofit Chicago they are demonstrating the practical and competitive benefits of energy efficiency in commercial real estate portfolios.”

Both JLL and Urban Innovations will hold Class A and Class B local 'Lunch & Learn' meetings in January for other commercial property owners, operators, managers and facility engineers to learn from their experiences and successes, and to encourage further energy efficiency around the city. 

As a Class A building, 77 West Wacker has 50 floors, 16 tenants and 959,258 square feet of rentable space. With its all-electric infrastructure, JLL business and operational leaders partnered to identify where energy savings – and the resulting cost savings – could be generated.  By driving transparency into the data, customizing the building's automation system, and engaging tenants on energy use, JLL reduced its energy use by 2 million kilowatt hours and decreased its electrical expenses by 47 percent.

"So often, businesses think of environmental programs as being costly, time-consuming and resource intensive," Myrna Coronado-Brookover, JLL's senior vice president and general manager said.  "We have found just the opposite to be true: by actively partnering with our engineering staff and our tenants, we were able to become more sustainable while increasing our competitiveness.”

Urban Innovations, like many Class B building operators, has a diverse portfolio of properties.  By tracking which buildings offered the most immediate opportunities for energy savings, the company made strategic choices to upgrade equipment in some properties as part of regular maintenance and repair, while completely redeveloping other properties.  As a result, Urban Innovations has reduced energy use annually by 990,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, saving $70,000 a year.

"Education and transparency into the data was the key to success," said Alfrieda Green, Urban Innovations' vice president of property management.  "Once we knew which properties provided us with the greatest opportunities, we found that it was a win-win situation.  Energy efficiency has saved us money, increased our sustainability into the future, and ultimately made our buildings more attractive to top tenants.”

Picture of 77 West Wacker, Chicago reproduced under CCL.

Thursday 8th January 2015

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