Chicago Takes Another Step in Direction of Energy Efficiency Leadership

by | Sep 14, 2017

Chicago is launching the Smart Building Operations Pilot, a program that uses energy data to building operators make energy efficient choices.

The program is a collaboration between the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Chicago utility ComEd and the Accelerate Group. It aims to help inform day-to-day decisions of equipment operators at 10 large Chicago buildings. More specifically, using data from smart meters and sub-meters, which monitor the electrical consumption of equipment within a building, the Smart Building Operations Pilot aims to change the daily habits of large building operators. By combining real-time information, hour-by-hour energy-use targets, and financial incentives, the pilot will motivate building operators to make more energy-efficient choices.

According to EDF, the program works in the following way:

  • Information:Collect and display interval energy-use data in real-time or near-real-time, providing direct feedback to a building operator on the energy impact of his or her actions.
  • Interpretation:Calculate an energy-use baseline, against which performance will be tracked daily and over the course of a month. To encourage behavior change, building operators will receive alerts when energy use exceeds or is expected to exceed the baseline.
  • Motivation:The program will provide an achievable and meaningful incentive to improve against the baseline and exceed energy efficiency targets.

According to the site, buildings will receive up to $5,000 up-front to cover any needed software or hardware, as well as a payment of $.05 per kilowatt hour saved in comparison to the baseline. Building operators will keep logs of activities to understand the changes they make to meet the baseline, and may compete against each other to meet and exceed goals.

It may come as no surprise that this program is based in Chicago. In July, it was announced that the city now has the most building spaces with LEED and Energy Star certification in the United States, according to CBRE and Maastricht University. Additionally, the 2017 National Green Building Adoption Index ranked the Windy City top among the nation’s 30 largest real estate markets.

And in April, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that more than 900 municipal buildings in the city will shift to 100% renewable energy by 2025. “As the Trump administration pulls back on building a clean energy economy, Chicago is doubling down,” Emanuel said. “By committing the energy used to power our public buildings to wind and solar energy, we are sending a clear signal that we remain committed to building a 21st century economy here in Chicago.”

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