Iconic Chicago Buildings Find $1.6 Million in Energy Savings with EDF Climate Corps

Commercial Buildings Seek Innovative Ways to Enhance Energy Management, Cut Costs

October 21, 2014
Stephanie Kennard, 212-616-1260, skennard@edf.org

(Chicago, IL – October 21, 2014) – Today, Environmental Defense Fund announced the findings from EDF Climate Corps in Chicago, a program surfacing scalable energy solutions for multi-tenant commercial buildings in the city. In collaboration with the Energy Center of Wisconsin, EDF trained and placed ten EDF Climate Corps fellows at 26 iconic buildings totaling more than 13 million square feet of commercial space. Within the last 16 months, these fellows have helped building owners and operators identify 6.6 million kilowatt hours in energy savings, worth a total of $1.6 million to participating organizations.

EDF Climate Corps found the greatest energy-saving potential through mapping energy data, analyzing demand response participation, installing sub-meters and deploying tenant engagement programs.

77 West Wacker Drive, a prominent Class A building, had already reduced energy consumption by 32 percent by participating in demand response and other energy efficiency efforts. EDF Climate Corps worked with JLL, the building’s managing agent, to develop a 26.5 percent energy reduction goal by 2018, allowing the building to join Mayor Emanuel’s Retrofit Chicago initiative.

“EDF Climate Corps provided us with the education and resources to make smarter decisions. It is priceless,” Myrna Coronado-Brookover, Senior Vice President and General Manager at JLL said.

Shorenstein Properties, a national commercial real estate company, worked with EDF Climate Corps to gain deeper insight into energy use at its River North Point building. By mapping energy use and analyzing data from over 140 electric meters throughout the building, the EDF Climate Corps fellow uncovered efficiency opportunities from cooling, heating and lighting. The fellow also coordinated a tenant education program that has led to the building’s participation in the Chicago Green Office Challenge.

“Shorenstein is committed to continuously evaluating and improving building performance. Participation in the EDF Climate Corps is a key part of our sustainability strategy,” Jaxon Love, Sustainability Program Manager at Shorenstein Properties, said. “Our EDF Climate Corps fellow at River North Point helped us unlock deeper efficiency opportunities in the building, and we anticipate a great return on investment from our involvement in EDF’s Chicago initiative.”

EDF Climate Corps also found that Class B commercial buildings could save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by scaling energy efficiency practices across their entire portfolios. However, many need help developing turnkey processes and automating their energy management systems to surface energy-saving opportunities.

Local property investment company, Urban Innovations, tasked its EDF Climate Corps fellow with developing an automated, capital budgeting tool that allowed it to refine its budgeting process and drive significant energy and cost savings efforts. In analyzing Urban Innovation’s budgeted projects for the coming year, the tool has already identified more than $72,000 in immediate rebates and driven capital equipment decisions that will yield $70,000 in annual energy cost-savings.  

“EDF Climate Corps helped us to find the best ways to manage our impact on the environment,” Mike Scilingo, President of Urban Innovations said. “As Urban Innovations continues its efforts to re-use existing buildings, we hope this new tool will serve as a financial planning prototype for similar buildings.”

EDF’s work to advance energy management in Chicago’s commercial buildings joins the efforts of Mayor Emanuel’s Retrofit Chicago, the Natural Resources Defense Council and C40 to reduce building energy use by 20 percent over the next five years.

“EDF Climate Corps provides the hands-on help organizations need to dig into the complexities of energy efficiency, project financing, data management and demand response,” Ellen Bell, Senior Specialist at EDF said. “Our goal is to cut energy use in a critical mass of downtown buildings – creating a tipping point that drives large-scale reductions in energy costs and emissions for buildings across the city.” 

The ten organizations participating in EDF Climate Corps in Chicago are CBRE for 100 N Riverside Plaza, GlenStar Asset Management, Institute of Cultural Affairs, JLL for 77 W Wacker Drive, MacArthur Foundation, Merchandise Mart, River North Point, select Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed buildings, South Street Capital and Urban Innovations. Since its launch in 2008, EDF Climate Corps has identified $1.4 billion in total energy-savings for more than 300 leading companies, cities and universities across the U.S. and China.  

See the full list of organizations that have participated in EDF Climate Corps at edfclimatecorps.org.

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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 edfclimatecorps.org.

Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), 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 Voices, Twitter and Facebook.