Three Ways Chicago is Leading the Charge on Energy Efficiency | Alliance to Save Energy

Three Ways Chicago is Leading the Charge on Energy Efficiency

Let's Save Energy

Alliance to Save Energy's Blog

07/14/17 /

Three Ways Chicago is Leading the Charge on Energy Efficiency

Throughout the year, the Alliance to Save Energy organizes field learning trips for a group of bipartisan Congressional staffers to visit cities leading the charge on energy efficiency around the country and engage with local leaders and representatives to discuss energy productivity opportunities. Visits have included San Francisco, Boston and, most recently, New York and New Jersey. Up next on the agenda is Chicago, which we will visit on July 21st.

You are invited to join us for part of the event! We will host a public briefing entitled, “Making the Business Case: How Data is Driving Energy Efficiency Investment in Chicago,” which will feature keynote remarks from Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), as well as speakers from Siemens, ComEd, the Illinois Commerce Commission and the City of Chicago. If you are interested in attending, please register here.

Chicago ranks as number 7 in energy efficiency nationwide, and we are super excited to see why. So let’s take a look at three ways the city is innovating when it comes to energy efficiency initiatives:

1. Real Estate

In 2016, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranked Illinois as the 13th most energy-efficient state in the country. The state earned the distinction of being one of only seven that earned a perfect score for its building energy codes and compliance activities. The state has implemented numerous mechanisms to ensure code compliance, such as convening a stakeholder advisory group and providing code training to relevant parties. Following a compliance survey, it was found that there was a 79 percent% residential compliance rate.

Additionally, over the last several years Illinois has been recognized as one of the states with the most LEED-certified space per resident in the country with 2.82 square feet of certified space per resident spread out over 161 projects. Chicago also recently gained similar recognition for boasting the highest percentage of LEED or ENERGY STAR certified office buildings (66 percent) out of the 30 largest real estate markets in the United States. The city has increased its percentage of green office space square footage by approximately 6.5 percent in the last year, which means that even though it already has the top spot, Chicago is certainly not resting on its laurels.

2. Utility Leadership

Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) is recognized as one of the most energy-efficient utility companies in the U.S. and was ranked as one of the top 10 most energy-efficient utilities in an analysis by ACEEE earlier this year. Through its Energy Efficiency Program, ComEd recently celebrated the impressive milestone of saving its customers over $2.5 billion on their utility bills per year. Even while celebrating this achievement, ComEd is already looking to the future and announced its intention to file new plans that will nearly double savings for customers and will reduce electricity use in Illinois by 21 percent by 2030.

The energy efficiency industry in Illinois employs nearly 84,000 people and that number is only expected to grow as the amount of investment into energy efficiency programs continues to increase. ComEd understands the employment benefits of energy efficiency and has invested $8 million in a new training facility – the Chicago Training Center – that will help train the next generation of workers to help operate and maintain the electric grid of the future. The training center features 50,000 square feet of classroom and indoor training space, a 240,000-square foot outdoor training yard and a 200-seat auditorium, all of which is used to train 4,000 workers each year.

3. Smart Street Lighting

The Chicago Infrastructure Trust, in collaboration with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District, rolled out the Chicago Smart Lighting Project, which aims to upgrade 85 percent - over 270,000 fixtures - of the city’s street, alley and park lights from High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps to LED lights in order to provide more reliable and better-quality lighting and enhance safety and security in public. Not to mention that the City of Chicago expects the new lighting to save a significant amount of energy – an estimated 50-70 percent reduction that would cut the City’s utility bills by about $10 million. The Project was launched in April 2017 and also includes the development and launch of a control network that will allow for better management of outages and issues in real-time. The project is one of the largest LED conversion and lighting modernization programs in the United States.




Help the Alliance advocate for policies to use energy more efficiently – supporting job creation, reduced emissions, and lower costs. Contact your member of Congress.


Energy efficiency is smart, nonpartisan, and practical. So are we. Our strength comes from an unparalleled group of Alliance Associates working collaboratively under the Alliance umbrella to pave the way for energy efficiency gains.


The power of efficiency is in your hands. Supporting the Alliance means supporting a vision for using energy more productively to achieve economic growth, a cleaner environment, and greater energy security, affordability, and reliability.