A Big Brown Downtown Tower is Also Chicago’s Greenest

Chicago’s last two mayors have both had the stated goal of making Chicago one of the world’s greenest cities.  It’s quite a shift for a metropolis that gave us Bubbly Creek and drinking water so putrid a river had to be reversed to keep everyone from dying.  As they used to say back when cigarette commercials were still on television, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

Four40In June of 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 14 downtown skyscrapers launched the Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings Initiative.  The program has since grown to 32 buildings, all of which are trying to reduce their energy use by 20%.  The National Resources Defense Council describes the program this way:

Dozens of the city’s most recognizable buildings have pledged to reduce their energy consumption by 20% over five years as part of Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings. Program participant buildings offer incredible diversity; ranging in age from 3-125 years old and includes cultural institutions, tourist attractions, hotels, university facilities and some of the city’s most iconic office towers designed by architects from Burnham to Van der Rohe. To achieve those goals, buildings get access to incentives and technical expertise from an array of experts including program partners NRDC and ComEd.

Four40NRDC’s recent evaluation of the Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings Initiative showed that participating buildings have already cut energy usage by 7% in less than two years, putting them on target to fulfill their overall 20% reduction goals. Those savings led to significant positive impacts, including $2.5 million in annual avoided energy costs and the elimination of over 28,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions (comparable to removing 5800 cars from the road annually). As energy efficiency efforts take center stage in the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions, the Initiative gives Chicago and the State of Illinois a head start in meeting those goals.

Since real estate is an inherently competitive industry, there actually is a contest for energy reduction.  The Retrofit Chicago Awards were handed out recently, and FOUR40, the building formerly known as One Financial Place, took top honors for actually exceeding the 20% goal.

Because infographics are all the rage on the interwebs these days, here’s one about the program:


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Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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