Commercial building leaders move city of Chicago closer to energy goals

JLL and Urban Innovations reach major energy savings milestones

January 7, 2015
Nancy Buzby, EDF, 617-406-1821,
Joyce Radnor, 617-787-5192,

(Chicago, IL – January 7, 2015) – Environmental Defense Fund announced today that two major commercial building operators – JLL and Urban Innovations – have together reduced energy usage by nearly 3 million kilowatt hours annually, dramatically moving forward in the effort to reach the City’s Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings Initiative’s stated goal of reducing commercial energy use in participating buildings by 20 percent in the next five years – a major component of the Sustainable Chicago 2015 plan.

JLL, operator of 77 West Wacker Drive – an iconic Class A building – and Urban Innovations, operator of 12 Chicago Class B buildings, identified and achieved significant energy reductions through both systematic and creative techniques, aided by Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps fellows.

“The City of Chicago, through our Retrofit Chicago initiative, is reducing energy use in commercial, residential and municipal buildings,” said Karen Weigert, chief sustainability officer for the City of Chicago.  “JLL and Urban Innovations – along with EDF Climate Corps – are leading the charge by identifying and implementing real, sustainable energy reduction initiatives. Through their work in Retrofit Chicago they are demonstrating the practical and competitive benefits of energy efficiency in commercial real estate portfolios.”

Both JLL and Urban Innovations will hold Class A and Class B local ‘Lunch & Learn’ meetings in January for other commercial property owners, operators, managers and facility engineers to learn from their experiences and successes, and to encourage further energy efficiency around the city. 

As a Class A building, 77 West Wacker has 50 floors, 16 tenants and 959,258 square feet of rentable space. With its all-electric infrastructure, JLL business and operational leaders partnered to identify where energy savings – and the resulting cost savings – could be generated.  By driving transparency into the data, customizing the building’s automation system, and engaging tenants on energy use, JLL reduced its energy use by 2 million kilowatt hours and decreased its electrical expenses by 47 percent.

“So often, businesses think of environmental programs as being costly, time-consuming and resource intensive,” Myrna Coronado-Brookover, JLL’s senior vice president and general manager said.  “We have found just the opposite to be true: by actively partnering with our engineering staff and our tenants, we were able to become more sustainable while increasing our competitiveness.”

Urban Innovations, like many Class B building operators, has a diverse portfolio of properties.  By tracking which buildings offered the most immediate opportunities for energy savings, the company made strategic choices to upgrade equipment in some properties as part of regular maintenance and repair, while completely redeveloping other properties.  As a result, Urban Innovations has reduced energy use annually by 990,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, saving $70,000 a year.

“Education and transparency into the data was the key to success,” said Alfrieda Green, Urban Innovations’ vice president of property management.  “Once we knew which properties provided us with the greatest opportunities, we found that it was a win-win situation.  Energy efficiency has saved us money, increased our sustainability into the future, and ultimately made our buildings more attractive to top tenants.”

Both JLL and Urban Innovations, along with ten other Chicago buildings, hosted 2014 Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps fellows to spearhead and implement many of their successful energy reduction strategies. Case studies on JLL’s 77 West Wacker Drive and Urban Innovations properties, as well as other key efforts in the Chicago area are available from Environmental Defense Fund at

“Every summer, our Climate Corps fellows embed themselves in their host organizations with clear goals to increase sustainability and profitability,” said Victoria Mills, managing director of EDF Climate Corps.  “Our 2014 Chicago-based fellows worked with leading companies to create a tipping point for energy management that we think can and should be replicated in cities across the country.”

 EDF Climate Corps is now accepting applications for EDF Climate Corps fellows for the summer of 2015.  Visit  to learn more.  

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About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate. With annual fee revenue of $4.0 billion and gross revenue of $4.5 billion, JLL has more than 200 corporate offices, operates in 75 countries and has a global workforce of approximately 53,000.  On behalf of its clients, the firm provides management and real estate outsourcing services for a property portfolio of 3.0 billion square feet, or 280.0 million square meters, and completed $99.0 billion in sales, acquisitions and finance transactions in 2013. Its investment management business, LaSalle Investment Management, has $53.0 billion of real estate assets under management. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit

About Urban Innovations

Urban Innovations, Ltd. is a Chicago-based real estate development firm with experience in acquisition, construction, asset management, leasing and management of commercial and residential properties. UI specializes in providing quality commercial space in Chicago and affordable housing throughout the Midwest. The firm’s portfolio of owned and managed properties includes 11 office buildings totaling 750,000 square feet of space in Chicago and 34 affordable housing properties totaling 3,700 units nationwide.

About EDF Climate Corps

EDF Climate Corps, a premier fellowship program, places specially trained graduate students in companies, cities, universities and nonprofits as dedicated problem-solvers. Connect with EDF Climate Corps at

Environmental Defense Fund (, a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF VoicesTwitter and Facebook.