• Chicago ranked significantly better when it comes to energy efficiency than other cities within its region, which includes Milwaukee, Cleveland, Detroit and Indianapolis
  • City appears to have a number of initiatives and retrofit programs underway
  • City scored highest for it energy and water utilities operations

When analyzed on its energy efficient-related initiatives and actions, the city of Chicago ranks among the nation’s best performing markets.

According to analysis from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Chicago is the sixth-most energy efficient city largely because of its energy and water utilities operations, along with its building policies.

Overall, the city garnered a score of 69.5 out of 100 from the ACEEE. The aforementioned operations and policies accounted for 37.5 of those points.

When it comes to energy and water utilities, the city recently received attention because of a public-private partnership that involves smart thermostat manufacturers ecobee and Nest Labs, along with Northern Illinois utility providers ComEd, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas.

Under the initiative, purchasers of ecobee3 and the Nest Learning thermostats are eligible for up to $120 in rebates ($100 per thermostat and an additional $20 from gas utilities) as long as they have Wi-Fi, central air and a furnace.

The city’s Department of Water Management is also converting steam-powered turbines and boilers at pumping stations to save more than $6.4 million per year in energy costs.

ACEEE noted the city has a goal to decrease water usage by 2 percent annually. Additionally, $50 million from the city’s capital budget spanning the next four or five years will fund green stormwater infrastructure projects on municipally owned sites.

Within five years, Chicago has also committed to reduce energy intensity by 20 percent. This commitment spans 50 buildings and 39 million square feet of private building stock.

For residential buildings, Chicago has “stretch code” elements that exceed the state mandated Illinois Energy Conversation Code. Homeowners considering a energy retrofit are eligible for rebates via the Chicago Retrofit Residential Partnership.

The city’s local government operations, community wide initiatives and transportation policies were also analyzed. These categories accounted for 9.5, 5.5 and 17 points, respectively, of the city’s final energy efficiency score.

Email Erik Pisor.

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