ENVIRONMENTAL STRATEGIES AND RECOMMENDATIONS

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2 ENVIRONMENTAL STRATEGIES AND RECOMMENDATIONS BUILDINGS PLAN OBJECTIVE: Retrofit all current commercial buildings in the neighborhood to reduce their energy consumption 20% by 2025 STRATEGIES: Educate building owners about potential long-term savings and all financing mechanisms available to reduce upfront cost for retrofits. According to the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), improving the energy efficiency of buildings is the biggest single opportunity for GHG reduction in Chicago, because 70% of Chicago s emissions are generated by electricity and natural gas use. 1 Energy-efficiency retrofits can address building envelopes, HVAC systems, super insulation, high-efficiency boilers and furnaces, energy-efficient windows, and other upgrades to help businesses save long-term costs. In uncertain economic times, building owners and tenants may be wary of investing in retail or commercial space that they might not own or occupy in a few years. Nonetheless, there are numerous ways for businesses to improve the energy efficiency of their structures. 1 Chicago s Greenhouse Gas Emissions: An Inventory, Forecast and Mitigation Analysis for Chicago and the Metropolitan Region. Center for Neighborhood Technology. 2

3 ComEd and Peoples Gas created the Small Business Energy Savings Program for small businesses that use less than 60,000 therms of natural gas and less than 100 kilowatts of electricity annually. Through this partnership, businesses can receive free energy assessments on-site as well as: Free Installation of: Low-flow showerheads Low-flow faucet aerators Pre-rinse sprayers Compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs Financial assistance (up to 70% of cost) for: Rebates of up to: Steam trap repairs/replacements Boiler tune-ups Boiler reset controls Programmable thermostats Furnace tune-ups $500 on boilers $225 on furnaces $200 on condensing unit heaters $50 on water heaters Small business owners can download the application form at: 3

4 Large commercial building owners can receive assistance from Peoples Gas & ComEd by retro-commissioning their buildings. Retro-commissioning boosts energy efficiency by making alterations to already-existing systems, such as sensor calibrations, supply fan rescheduling, and actuator cycling. These projects can help extend equipment life and payback can often be much shorter than installing brand new equipment. Large commercial building owners also have access to free capital for energy-efficiency improvement project. Energy Impact Illinois recently selected Transcend Equity Development through a competitive bid process to assist large commercial buildings with capital expenditure costs. Through a Managed Energy Services Agreement (MESA), Transcend Equity agrees to pay for building retrofits up front while the building owner agrees to pay Transcend Equity the historical costs of utilities. Buildings typically see energy use reductions up to 25% and at the end of the MESA term the building owner has utility bills at much lower costs than would have been possible without the financing agreement. CASE STUDY A business consortium started by the Carbon War Room, a nonprofit environmental group, plans to invest as much as $650 million over the next few years to retrofit buildings in the Miami and Sacramento areas. A tax arrangement allows property owners to install energy-efficiency upgrades to their buildings at no upfront costs, with all of the capital for improvements supplied by the business consortium. Building owners then pay property-tax surcharges for 5-20 years while getting significant decreases in their utility costs. Contractors will offer warrantees to ensure that property owners see utility cost decreases as promised. (Gilles) 4

5 Additionally, the Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) provides businesses with no-cost energyefficiency design assistance and demonstrates the cost-effectiveness of energy-efficiency strategies. In the face of rising energy prices, businesses and building owners cannot afford to ignore the potential cost-savings of energyefficiency retrofits. In December 2006, one kilowatt-hour (kwh) of electricity cost Chicago area consumers $ By December 2011, that figure had risen to $0.147, a nearly 46% increase in cost for electricity. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 5

6 The Chicago Climate Action Plan recommends retrofitting 50% of existing commercial stock by 2020, and hopes to reduce energy use in these buildings by 30%. Because most of the structures in the neighborhood are residential buildings, North Center should aim higher and attempt to retrofit all commercial buildings by The goal for these buildings is a more modest 20% total energy reduction. 6

7 PLAN OBJECTIVE: Retrofit 50% of current residential buildings in the neighborhood to reduce their energy consumption 20% by 2025 STRATEGIES: Educate homeowners about potential long-term savings and all financing mechanisms available to reduce upfront cost for retrofits. It is estimated that 80% of the buildings standing today will still be around by , and most of the building stock in North Center is residential. Energy-efficiency retrofits can address building envelopes, HVAC systems, super insulation, highefficiency boilers and furnaces, energy-efficient windows, and other upgrades to help homeowners save long-term costs. North Center homeowners can find helpful information on the Home Improvement section of the ENERGY STAR website: Here, they can compare their home s energy use, get energy-efficiency recommendations specific to the neighborhood, and resources for do-it-yourself projects like sealing air leaks, adding insulation, and sealing ducts. Source: Energy Star 2 Chicago s Greenhouse Gas Emissions: An Inventory, Forecast and Mitigation Analysis for Chicago and the Metropolitan Region. Center for Neighborhood Technology. 7

8 The Illinois Sierra Club suggestions that a professional home energy audit is often the best way for identifying the most cost-effective means of improving a home s energy efficiency. 3 Energy auditors use diagnostic tools like infrared cameras and surface thermometers to find leaks and drafts in the building envelope of a home. Homeowners can search on the Illinois Association of Energy Raters website for service professionals at: There are numerous rebate and tax-incentive options to help homeowners and owners of multi-family buildings that are planning energy-efficiency projects. The easiest way to find out about potential tax credits at the federal level is to go to the U.S. Department of Energy website at and search for tax credits based on the type of building and the type of energy-efficiency improvements being planned. The Peoples Gas Natural Gas Savings Program runs the Residential Prescriptive Rebate Program, offering homeowners rebates for installing high-efficiency furnaces, boilers, and/or air conditioners: $800 on complete system replacement (furnace and central air conditioner) $600 for boilers $400 for furnaces $100 on boiler reset controls The current program runs through May 31, 2012 and homeowners can download the application here: 3 Home Owner Energy Efficiency Resource Guide. Illinois Sierra Club 8

9 The Energy Savers program run by CNT Energy helps owners of multi-family buildings reduce their costs by improving the energy efficiency of their buildings. Owners get a complete energy assessment of their building, including a review of utility bills and an analysis of the building structure. They also receive financial guidance for finding grants or tax credits, construction oversight, and annual performance monitoring. The Cook County Community and Economic Development Association (CEDA) offers low-income families access to weatherization and energy-assistance programs. The weatherization program provides insulation and building envelope improvements, repairs or replacement of old furnaces, and other options. The Chicago Climate Action Plan recommends retrofitting 50% of existing residential building stock by 2020, and hopes to reduce energy use in up to 400,000 units by 30%. This is a highly ambitious goal, but it remains to be seen how much progress will be made by According to the city s 2010 Progress Report, in the first 2 years of the plan only 13,341 housing units were retrofitted. The goal for North Center is to retrofit 50% of the residential building stock by 2025, at a more modest 20% total energy reduction. 9

10 PLAN OBJECTIVE: Encourage residents and business owners to purchase only Energy Star-rated appliances when it comes time to replace older appliances STRATEGIES: Educate North Center stakeholders about potential long-term savings, rebates, and taxincentives available to reduce the upfront cost for appliances. Although most of the energy used in buildings is for heating and cooling, appliances also use an average of 13% of household energy use. 4 In 2010, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) utilized funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to help Illinois homeowners trade in old appliances for higher-efficiency ENERGY STAR-rated appliances. The program, supported by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, administered more than 81,000 rebates in less than 8 months. The carbon-offset impact was equivalent to removing almost 21,000 cars from the road for one year. 5 With more than 16,000 residents in the neighborhood, North Center has significant purchasing power. The North Center Chamber of Commerce should be encouraged to reach out to local appliance stores to set up an ENERGY-STAR rebate day for North Center residents, similar to the DCEO program of In addition, homeowners can find additional information on special offers and rebates in their ZIP code by going to the following ENERGY STAR webpage: Illinois Success Story: Illinois ENERGY STAR Appliance Rebate Program. 10

11 Commercial and industrial property owners can get rebates from Peoples Gas when they install high-efficiency furnaces, boilers, water heaters, and commercial kitchen equipment. The current rebates run through May 31, 2012 and include up to $500 for new boilers and up to $400 for new furnaces. Property owners can download the rebate application form at: 11

12 PLAN OBJECTIVE: Encourage residents and business owners to immediately take advantage of easy, low-impact, energy reductions strategies STRATEGY: Educate on the energy- and cost-savings possible by using programmable thermostats, energy-efficient light bulbs, and other technologies Cost estimates for energy-efficiency projects or replacing appliances can seem daunting for homeowners, multi-family building owners, and commercial building owners. Retrofits take time and resources, and owners may not receive a return on investment for a few years. However, there are many easy, low-impact steps that can also be taken to reduce a building s carbon footprint immediately. Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs are considered one of the lowhanging fruit for energy-efficiency upgrades. They use about 75% less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs and can last up to 6 times longer. 6 Source: U.S. EPA. Energy Star program. Homeowners can find out their annual electric cost savings and the amount of CO2-emissions they would save by switching to CFLs, by using the following cost-savings calculator provided by the Chicago Tribune:

13 The next wave of energy-efficient light bulbs will likely be light-emittingdiodes (LEDs). Although considerably more expensive than incandescents or CFLs, as the technologies continue to improve the costs will continue to drop. Programmable thermostats offer another very easy way for residents in North Center to save heating and cooling costs, while offsetting greenhouse-gas emissions. In the winter, the thermostat is set to several degrees lower than normal at night or when the home is empty; in the summer, it is set to several degrees higher than normal at night or when the home is empty. Through proper use, these thermostats can save a typical, single-family home ~$180/year in energy costs. 7 For owners of apartment buildings and condominium associations, Peoples Gas offers free high-pressure, low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators through their Multi-Family Home Energy Savers Program. Through a partnership with ComEd, they also offer compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Peoples Gas will install all items free of charge, and provide information about other incentive programs to the building owners

14 PLAN OBJECTIVE: Support the Chicago Energy Conservation Code in all newly constructed buildings STRATEGY: Encourage local leaders to streamline approval for newly constructed buildings that illustrate a commitment to sustainability. New residential and commercial constructions in the City of Chicago built to green-building standards save 50% more energy compared to existing structures, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT). Although upfront costs are, on average, 2% higher for green buildings than for regular buildings, green buildings result in life cycle savings of 20% of total construction costs and overall savings 10 times the initial investment. 8 The Chicago Climate Action Plan, CMAP s GO TO 2040 Plan, and the City of Chicago s Adding Green to Urban Design Plan all advocate for the use of energy-efficiency and sustainability in new construction. Sustainable buildings are an asset to the community, and North Center should encourage private developers seeking to build within the neighborhood to erect structures with the most up-to-date green techniques available. 8 Kats, Greg. The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Buildings. 14

15 CASE STUDY A recent zoning application, submitted by Earthwood Development on the site of an old vacated laundromat, seeks to build 18 apartment units at N. Western Ave. The $3-million proposed development would include a Green roof, permeable pavement for the exterior parking area, stormwater collection for irrigation, energy-efficient envelope construction, high-efficiency HVAC equipment, Energy- Star appliances and lighting, and will seek Chicago Green Homes 2-Star certification. The development would not require any public financing or TIF money and would create 30 part-time construction jobs. CURRENT PROPOSED 15

16 PLAN OBJECTIVE: Reduce the sale of high global-warming-impact refrigerants in the short term and support banning/phasing out these refrigerants in the long-term STRATEGY: Educate local stakeholders about the harmful effects of conventional refrigerants and encourage conservation measures. HydroFluoroCarbons (HFCs) are chemicals used primarily in air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers. While consumers can save money and help the environment by reducing their energy use in other areas, there are few other areas where reducing energy use can have such a large impact. The Center for Neighborhood Technology states that one ton of HFC-134a has the same global-warming impact over 100 years as 1,300 tons of CO2. 9 The chemical is so ozone depleting that California has banned its sale altogether. There are simple steps that local stakeholders in North Center can do to reduce the amount of refrigerants needed to run appliances. Turning off air-conditioning units when spaces are unoccupied, or slightly increasing the temperature level of refrigerators and freezers can go a long way. North Center residents and businesses should also encourage local government officials to support worldwide efforts to ban HFCs internationally. By forcing manufacturers to find more sustainable refrigerants for use in household appliances, the greenhouse-gas footprint of the community will go down as well 9 CNT Climate Research Summary 16

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