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Chicago on its way to becoming more energy efficient

Updated: January 30, 2014 10:30AM

Chicago has joined nine other American cities in a competitive environmental project aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, namely by boosting energy efficiency in large buildings.

Chicago’s tall buildings are responsible for 71 percent of Chicago’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the mayor’s office. In New York City, about 75 to 80 percent of greenhouse gases come from large buildings, according to Bloomberg News.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in announcing the City Energy Project in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

Through the Natural Resources Defense Council and Institute for Market Transformation project, the cities will individually create plans to advance energy efficiency and reduce waste in large buildings — such as ensuring buildings are run efficiently and personnel are trained on energy-saving practices. Other goals include providing solutions to financial and legal barriers to energy efficiency. The cities will be in communication with one another and will be able to share and compare plans.

In a statement Mayor Emanuel called the project a promising opportunity and partnership in making Chicago a more energy-efficient city.

“More energy efficiency means new jobs and continued economic growth, and a more sustainable City, which will lead to a further increase in the quality of life for the people of Chicago,” Emanuel said.

Chicago’s participation could lower energy bills by as much as $134 million annually and could cut about 1.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, according to the mayor’s office.

Boosting building efficiency reduces pollution and also reduces the demand for new power plants. Job creation would include electricians, architects, construction workers, engineers, building technicians and software providers, according to the city.

The project is funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. The three organizations have pledged $3 million a year for three years. The money will provide technical advisers for each city to develop tailored policies. The money will also ensure funding for partnerships with local non-for-profit partners in addition to resources created by the NRDC, which can be used by each city.

Atlanta, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Orlando and Salt Lake City round out the cities involved in the project. The project’s organizers say the plans for each city should take a year max to be planned.


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