Retrofit Chicago Awards: Windy City’s Energy Efficiency Leaders

Inaugural Awards Highlight Buildings Making Huge Strides in Cutting Energy Consumption

CHICAGO (October 16, 2014) – The Retrofit Chicago Commercial Building Initiative has announced its inaugural awards honoring one building and three building engineers leading the effort to unleash the power of energy efficiency across Chicago’s iconic skyline. 

“More than 40 of Chicago’s largest and most recognizable buildings have been taking part in the unique partnership that has transformed the city’s downtown into a learning-lab to harness the power of energy efficiency,” said Becky Stanfield, Midwest policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “These awards recognize the folks leading the charge to make our skyline more resilient, efficient, cheaper and on the global cutting edge.”

Dozens of the city’s most recognizable buildings have pledged to reduce their energy consumption by 20% over five years as part of Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings. Program participant buildings offer incredible diversity; ranging in age from 3-125 years old and includes cultural institutions, tourist attractions, hotels, university facilities and some of the city’s most iconic office towers designed by architects from Burnham to Van der Rohe. To achieve those goals, buildings get access to incentives and technical expertise from an array of experts including program partners NRDC and ComEd.

Award winners, announced at an event hosted by the City of Chicago, Joyce Foundation and NRDC last night, include:

Mayor’s Leadership Circle Award for exceeding the 20% energy reduction goal: FOUR40, 440 S. LaSalle Street

Most Valuable Engineers Award, in recognition for their innovation and success in navigating unique challenges posed by their buildings:

  • Shawn Freeman, Chief Engineer at The Rookery – 209 S. LaSalle Street
  • Calvin Oaks, Director of Engineering, and Ryan Egan, Chief Engineer at Chicago Sheraton Hotel & Towers – 301 E. North Water Street

“Daniel Burnham has stood out as one of Chicago’s most important architects and planners—so it is genuinely exciting to see the engineer at one of his most famous buildings continues to lead this city,” said NRDC Midwest Director Henry Henderson. “The results from these buildings and the program in general should be the envy of every town in America—they are not just leading the way down a more energy efficient path in Chicago; but for the nation.”

NRDC’s recent evaluation of the Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings Initiative showed that participating buildings have already cut energy usage by 7% in less than two years, putting them on target to fulfill their overall 20% reduction goals. Those savings led to significant positive impacts, including $2.5 million in annual avoided energy costs and the elimination of over 28,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions (comparable to removing 5800 cars from the road annually). As energy efficiency efforts take center stage in the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions, the Initiative gives Chicago and the State of Illinois a head start in meeting those goals.

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