Energy Efficient Buildings

Buildings account for approximately 70 percent of all the city emissions and are the primary target for our reductions. Key opportunities here are improving the energy efficiency of residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.

Many small changes in how motivated individuals use energy can add up to big emissions reductions. It can be as easy as turning off the lights and appliances when not needed, dialing down the thermostat at night or turning off the tap when brushing your teeth. If half of all city residents took easy, low-cost steps like these -- and half of all managers of commercial businesses take similar steps -- they would each reduce their annual emissions by one metric ton of CO2e.

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1. Retrofit Commercial and Industrial Buildings

Retrofit 50 percent of commercial and industrial building stock, resulting in a 30 percent energy reduction = 1.3 MMTCO2e reduction*

2. Retrofit Residential Buildings

Improve efficiency of 50 percent of residential buildings to achieve a 30 percent reduction in energy used = 1.44 MMTCO2e reduction*

3. Trade in Appliances

Expand appliance trade-in and lightbulb replacement programs = .28 MMTCO2e reduction*

4. Conserve Water

Improve water use efficiency in buildings as part of retrofits = .04 MMTCO2e reduction*

5. Update City Energy Code

Align Chicago’s Energy Conservation Code with the latest international standards = 1.13 MMTCO2e reduction*

6. Establish New Guidelines for Renovations

Require all building renovations to meet green standards = .31 MMTCO2e reduction*

7. Cool with Trees and Green Roofs

Increase rooftop gardens to a total of 6,000 buildings citywide and plant an estimated 1 million trees = .17 MMTCO2e reduction*

8. Take Easy Steps

Encourage all Chicagoans to take easy steps to reduce their emissions by one metric ton of CO2e per person = .8 MMTCO2e reduction*

*MMTCO2e (million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent) is the term for the quantity of any greenhouse gas, including carbon dioxide, methane and others, translated CO2 by weighing it by its relative global warming potential. A reduction of 1 MMTCO2e is equivalent to removing nearly 185,000 cars from the road.



Energy Efficient Buildings Consultants:

Booz & Co

Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture


Chicago Retrofit Steering Committee Members

Booz & Co

Community & Economic Development Association


Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Northern Illinois Energy Project

Peoples Gas

Energy Impact Illinois logo

City Seal

Civic Consulting Alliance