Future Initiatives

Building Retrofits

The City is embarking on an ambitious building retrofit program, which, when brought to scale, will help retrofit 65,000 residential units every year. The program plans to retrofit 400,000 residential dwelling units achieving 30 percent efficiency, which will save 863 gigawatt-hours of electricity and 235 million therms of natural gas for an estimated cost savings of $269 million per year. The program will retrofit 9,000 commercial and institutional and 200 industrial retrofits achieving 30 percent efficiency, which will save 1,525 gigawatt-hours of electricity and 69 million therms of natural gas for an estimated cost savings of $219 million per year.


With different building retrofit programs available to serve a range of markets, it is important to provide the public with a one-stop-shop – a place to go to understand what program would best suit the needs of a building owner and a place to find program support. The one-stop communication shop will be established by the Climate Action Plan to serve as a central repository for energy efficiency program information, including information on financing assistance, contractors, and tax benefits.

Energy Efficiency Code

Monitoring building efficiency and enforcing standards is a major responsibility of city government. The City of Chicago will update and simplify its Energy Conservation Code in order to align it with the international standards as well as facilitate adherence to its regulations.

Global Building Monitoring System

The City is pursuing the installation of a Global Building Monitoring System (GBMS), which would enable it to control the temperature at more than 500 city-owned facilities, reducing energy costs by as much as 30-40 percent. Energy efficiency audits would be performed at all city facilities and appropriate upgrades would be made.

Green Office Challenge

The Green Office Challenge is an invitation to property management firms and major tenants in the central business district to improve energy efficiency and reduce waste through capital improvements and behavioral changes. Monthly trainings will be held for tenants and property mangers, as well as a one-on-one technical assistance operation. The goal in 2008 is to engage 20 buildings and their tenants to participate in the Green Office Challenge.

Solar Energy

The Department of Water Management is planning to install a 1 megawatt solar array at the South Water Filtration Plant. In addition, the Chicago Park District is training their union employees on how to install solar arrays. This training will allow them to more easily install photovoltaic arrays on their properties.

Transit Oriented Development

The City and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) have formed a Transit Oriented Development Strategy Workgroup, which meets biweekly to develop plans to encourage transit-supportive neighborhoods around existing transit stations. This workgroup has identified three priority pilot stations and begun to develop plans to improve the transit-supportive nature of their surrounding neighborhoods. The workgroup will study both the CTA and Metra rail systems in order to develop station typologies and classify every rail station in order to determine appropriate Transit Oriented Development suggestions for each surrounding neighborhood.

Improved Transit Fare Cards

The City will work with the Regional Transit Authority (RTA), Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), PACE Bus and Metra to improve the convenience of transit fare cards. Different fare card options will be evaluated in order to make access to regional transit more convenient for all potential users.

Carbon Offset Fund

The people of Chicago, as well as businesses and institutions who are not direct emitters of greenhouse gases, will be able to immediately contribute to progress of the Chicago Climate Action Plan by offsetting the emissions that everyday activity creates. Purchasing offsets will help pay for the local reduction measures that are called for in the Chicago Climate Action Plan, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency retrofits, collection and destruction of ozone depleting substances, tree planting, and methane collection and destruction. The City of Chicago has teamed up with the Delta Institute to create the Chicago Offset Fund (COfund), which will identify and aggregate offset projects in the Chicago region that are consistent with the Climate Action Plan mitigation strategies. By selling Chicago credits through a retail site, the Chicago Climate Exchange or other markets, local offset projects will be monetized and a revenue stream will be created to implement greenhouse gas reduction measures locally.

Climate Action Plan Jobs

According to research by the Regional Economic Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois, the Chicago Climate Action Plan could create hundreds of new jobs if local firms take advantage of the opportunity and if there is adequate job training for workers. To leverage these opportunities, the City of Chicago formed a Steering Committee staffed by the Chicago Jobs Council. The steering committee commissioned the Center for Urban Economic Development (CUED) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Green For All to report on workforce development and training issues that will be central as the City of Chicago pursues the Climate Change Action Plan.

Extreme Heat

To prepare for the likelihood of more frequent and intense heat waves, the City, hospitals and community organizations will work together to update Chicago’s emergency response plan, identifying key populations that are most at risk. Further research into urban heat islands may identify additional steps to eliminate these hot spots. A program to attract innovative new ideas for cooling the city will also be launched.

Extreme Precipitation

In collaboration with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), the City will prepare a watershed plan that factors in projected climate changes, the first time these changes will be included in a Chicago regional infrastructure plan. The City will also collaborate with MWRD and other municipal agencies to find ways to use available space – from vacant land to parking lots – to manage stormwater.

Ecosystem Changes

The City is adopting an Urban Forest Management Plan to better manage Chicago’s existing and future trees. The City, nurseries, developers, and other stakeholders will amend the landscape ordinance and adopt a recommended plant list to reflect changes in the Chicago ecosystem.

Building, Infrastructure and Equipment Integrity

The City will expand power vulnerability studies and learn from existing Energy Resource Management planning in order to prepare buildings for possible power inconsistencies.

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