Chicago Benchmarking Yields Energy Savings

Jan. 7, 2015

Plus 12 best practices to reduce operating costs. 

As part of Mayor Emanuel’s three-year plan to make Chicago more sustainable and energy efficient, the 2014 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Report includes data from nearly 350 buildings spanning over 260 million square feet and covering diverse sectors such as healthcare, office settings, and schools. The city looks to improve the process and involve more facilities by lowering the square feet threshold from 250,000 to 50,000 for mandatory benchmarking by 2016.

The report shows that by improving all reporting buildings’ energy intensity to the 50th and 75th percentile could result in total energy reduction of 13-23% and savings of $44-$77 million on energy costs, also resulting in 1,000 new jobs from the investments necessary to perform improvements. Additionally, the report finds that building space use, as opposed to size and age, is the primary driver of energy intensity. 

The report outlines 12 best practices to improve energy efficiency:

  1. Designate an “energy leader” for each facility or organization.
  2. Track annual and periodic energy consumption data to help find areas for potential savings.
  3. Develop a clear energy performance upgrade plan with short-, medium-, and long-term objectives.
  4. Perform an energy audit to find energy saving opportunities.
  5. Retro-commission existing systems to improve efficiency.
  6. Poll your occupants to find places where you may need to improve comfort or efficiency.
  7. Create green design standards to cover additional construction, purchasing, and renovations.
  8. Work with a design professional to help outline energy saving goals when undergoing facility improvements.
  9. Look for utility and tax incentive programs that can help to finance efficiency upgrades.
  10. If you’re renovating, consider installing capability to support future renewable energy installations.
  11. Always keep current on routine maintenance and regularly test equipment to ensure optimal performance.
  12. Check out green building certifications such as LEED or ENERGY STAR that can verify improved performance. 

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