When commercial real-estate firm Zeller Realty Group bought a postmodern staple of Chicago’s iconic skyline in 2014, it faced an energy-inefficiency quagmire.
Large buildings throughout Chicago are getting more efficient, trimming energy costs and reducing emissions, according to recently released data from the city. However, the early data also suggest several major properties are still struggling to improve their energy performance as measured by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program.
With the Trump administration expected to roll back federal climate policy, advocates are hoping states and cities will pick up the slack on reducing carbon emissions. Chicago is often touted as a leader on this front thanks to its solar, energy efficiency and other programs, along with the 2012 closure of two urban power plants and city officials’ action against petroleum coke storage. Now a majority of City Council members and the Chicago chapter of 350.org want the city to make a statement against the fossil fuel industry by pledging to divest the city’s pension funds and stocks and bonds. A divestment resolution was introduced in December, and backers are hoping it will be heard by the full council this spring. The measure would be largely symbolic, since a resolution is non-binding and the state government is in charge of pension investments.
Local leaders and many residents say they like the idea of nurturing clean energy technology in Bronzeville, and hope a planned microgrid can be a springboard for related community-driven projects.
Smart “learning thermostats” can help reduce energy use and bills while increasing ratepayers’ comfort during harsh winter months.
A relatively inconspicuous company has played a significant role in the innovation and build-out of the country’s grid over the past century, including the development of the smart grid in the Chicago area and across the continent today.
A new interactive map notes which properties have potential for community solar projects in the Chicago area and is sparking interest among area planners.
A 1 megawatt, lithium-ion battery system at Chicago’s landmark Shedd Aquarium will play a broader role in the way electricity supply and demand is balanced across the region.
At a hearing in Chicago last week, activists called on the EPA to use a little-known provision of the Clean Power Plan to advance environmental justice.
A Chicago office building is making strides on efficiency, in part because of a unique dynamic display that gives occupants real-time information on energy use.