State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Chicago, IL

57.50Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 5.5 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Chicago adopted its Climate Action Plan in 2008.

Last updated: September 2021

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

Former Mayor Emanuel’s 2017 Executive Order commits the City of Chicago to the goal of reducing citywide greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26% below 2005 levels by 2025 in line with the Paris Accord. ACEEE projects that the city will meet its community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal. 

The city has released greenhouse gas inventories for the years 2005, 2010, 2015.

Energy Reduction Goal

Chicago participates in the Better Buildings Challenge, where it set a goal to reduce building energy use 20% below 2011 levels by 2022. 

Renewable Energy Goal

Resilient Chicago, the city’s resilience strategy, includes a goal to transition to 100% renewable energy in buildings across the city by 2035.

Last updated: September 2021

Equity-Driven Approaches to Clean Energy Planning, Implementation, and EvaluationList All

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether relevant decision-makers have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting engagement for multiple clean energy initiatives with marginalized groups compared to engagement with other city constituencies.

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

We were unable to determine if the city has created a formal role for marginalized community residents or local organizations representing those communities to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

Equity Accountability Measures

The Resilient Chicago plan includes specific goals and indicators to improve transit service to underserved areas and install efficient lighting in low-income communities.

Last updated: September 2021

Clean Distributed Energy ResourcesList All

Chicago issued Requests for Proposals (RFP) to install solar farms on seven lots owned by the city. Some of these systems will offer community solar subscriptions.

Last updated: September 2021

Mitigation of Heat Islands List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

We could not find information on an urban heat island mitigation goal.

UHI Policies and Programs 

Chicago’s Sustainable Development Policy requires new construction projects to integrate low impact development measures or restore natural lands. The city's policy also provides expedited green permits for construction involving a green roof, rainwater harvesting, or a similar measure. The Chicago Energy Efficiency Conservation Code requires new low-sloped roofs to have a minimum 3-year reflectance of 0.5 and medium sloped roofs to have a reflectance of 0.15. Chicago has not adopted a private tree protection ordinance.

Last updated: September 2021

Buildings Policies
Score: 20 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Chicago currently complies with the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The Chicago Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance includes comprehensive benchmarking and disclosure requirements for buildings greater than 50,000 square feet. The city offers incentives to residential buildings for both energy efficiency upgrades and solar installation. Chicago does not require buildings to perform energy saving actions, but the Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge has been successful at reducing energy use.

Last updated: June 2021

Building Energy CodesList All


The State of Illinois allows local jurisdictions to adopt energy codes more stringent than the state’s. Currently, both the state and the City of Chicago follow the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code for both residential and commercial. To learn more about building energy codes in Illinois, please visit the State Policy Database.


Chicago complies with the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code for all commercial buildings. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 51.8.


The city complies with the 2018 IECC for all residential buildings. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 53.4.  

Solar-readiness policies

The city has not adopted a formal policy mandating new construction be solar-ready, but does allow solar energy use in all zones. 

EV-charging readiness and infrastructure policies

In 2019, Chicago adopted an ordinance requires new commercial and multifamily buildings to be EV-ready. In 2020, the city strengthened the requirements

Low-energy use requirements

The Chicago Sustainable Development Policy requires municipal buildings to be constructed to LEED Silver standards. It also requires development projects that are receiving financial assistance or special approvals from the City to include sustainable elements. Developers must select the elements from a sustainable strategies menu. New construction must achieve 100 points and renovations must achieve 25 to 50 points. The policy applies to any commercial or multifamily project that receives city assistance, requires a zoning change, or requires any other special approval (typically most large private development projects). 

Last updated: June 2021

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

Chicago does not have staff solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city previously ran the Registered Energy Professional program, but discontinued it in 2018. Currently, the city requires all permit applicants to have their plans reviewed by an Illinois-licensed architect or engineer and submit an energy compliance statement. For several types of work and methods of compliance, the energy conservation requirements include commissioning and post-construction testing to verify building performance. The city provides free technical supporting and training on the state and energy code through the University of Illinois’s Smart Energy Design Assistance Center.

Last updated: June 2021

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All

Commercial and multifamily benchmarking

The Chicago Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance requires commercial and multifamily buildings greater than 50,000 square feet to benchmark using Portfolio Manager and publicly disclose the information. Owners must provide reports annually and have a trained professional verify their data every three years. The city discloses buildings-specific data to the public on their website. The city adopted the ordinance in September 2013 and it became effective in June 2014.

Chicago offers training and guidance to building owners through a help center hotline. Chicago also worked with local utilities to simplify the data collection process by ensuring owners have access to whole-building energy use data for buildings. The Ordinance currently covers 73% of commercial buildings and 67% of multifamily buildings within the city.

Single-family energy disclosure    

Section 5-16-050 of Chicago's Municipal Code requires residential building owners to disclose a building's natural gas and electricity costs for the previous 12 months at the time of sale. 

Rental energy disclosure

Chicago requires building owners to disclose the cost of heating from the previous 12 months to prospective tenants. 

Other requirements

The Chicago Benchmarking Energy Ordinance created the Chicago Energy Rating System. The system assigns all buildings over 50,000 square feet an energy performance rating, which will be required to be posted in a prominent location and shared at time of listing the property for sale or lease. It went into effect in 2019. 


The Retrofit Chicago Residential Partnership offers rebates for energy efficient appliance to residential buildings with no more than four units. The Tax-Increment Financing Neighborhood Improvement Program offers grants to residential building of one to four units for efficiency improvements including air sealing, roof insulation, and boiler or furnace upgrades. The city passed a property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing ordinance that will provide financing to commercial, institutional and residential building owners.

Voluntary programs

The city also have one voluntary program. The Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge achieved energy savings. As 2017, it enrolled more than 90 buildings that account for 51.3 million square total.  Each participating property commits to reducing their energy consumption by 20% within the first five years after joining, and to tracking their energy and water data with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

Last updated: June 2021

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

The community solar RFP includes a section on local workforce development. Respondents must meet Minority and Women Business Enterprise participation requirements. City residents must perform 50% of workhours, with at least 7.5% of those residents being project area residents.

The city’s energy benchmarking policy also includes a workforce development provision, where a professional with a city-approved license and/or training credential must verify the data. The City has worked with several local organizations to ensure their training programs are recognized under this requirement. Some of the local organizations that provide training include the City Colleges of Chicago, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 1 training center, and the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.

PACE projects over $2 million are required to meet the city's MBE and WBE requirements. 

Last updated: June 2021

Score: 16 out of 30 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving the City of Chicago is the Chicago Transit Authority. CTA also provides the public transportation for the city and the broader metropolitan area, including train and bus service. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses Chicago, and the surrounding counties. The City of Chicago Department of Transportation is the city agency charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

The Chicago Forward transportation plan and Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda both include a variety of approaches to reduce VMT with the city. These include making Chicago the most bike and pedestrian friendly city in the country by adding up to 100 miles of new bicycle lanes, introducing bicycle sharing, and developing a pedestrian master plan. The City is also targeting improved transit ridership by incentivizing transit-oriented development and adding bus rapid transit service. Chicago is also looking to expand Transit Oriented Development to include high-ridership, high-frequency CTA bus routes, making Chicago the first U.S. city to pursue such a policy. Chicago does not have a codified VMT reduction target in place.

There are also detailed strategies that reduce transportation energy use in the city's Climate Action Plan and Resilience Plan

VMT/GHG Target and Stringency

At this time, the City does not have a codified vehicle miles traveled (VMT) or greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

We could not determine if the City tracks VMT or GHG numbers.

Last Updated: October 2021

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

Chicago released an Equitable Transit Oriented Development (eTOD) policy plan in 2020 which looks to bolster the city's anti-poverty and equitable economic growth agenda.

Residential Parking Policies

The City’s zoning ordinance includes parking reductions for development around transit stations, in some developments parking reduction can be zero.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

The City offers density bonuses and expedited review of parking requirements for developments choosing to locate in transit-oriented zones. Chicago also has a Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus. This allows zoning bonuses to increase the size of individual downtown construction projects. Developers pay a bonus payment to get a higher floor area ratio (FAR).

Last Updated: October 2021

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

Chicago has not yet developed targets to promote a modal shift in transportation. However, Chicago's Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda includes a variety of approaches to reduce VMT with the city. These include making Chicago the most bike and pedestrian friendly city in the country by adding up to 100 miles of new bicycle lanes, introducing bicycle sharing, and developing a pedestrian master plan.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

No progress has been achieved, as there are no targets in place.

Complete Streets

Chicago adopted its complete streets policy in 2006, Safe Streets for Chicago. The adoption of the policy encourages the inclusion of complete streets principles in all road construction and maintenance projects, ensuring safety for all in the public right-of-way.

Last Updated: October 2021

Public Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transit entities that serve the City of Chicago have received $1,317,055,093.20 on average annually between 2015 and 2019. That equates to roughly $406.40 per capita between 2015 and 2019 within the service area. 

Access to Transit Services

The Transit Connectivity Index measures transit service levels. It is based on the number of bus routes and train stations within walking distance for households scaled by frequency of service. The City of Chicago’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 9.1, scoring 2 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: October 2021

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

The Chicago Department of Transportation (City) administers Drive Clean Chicago, a program delivering incentives to alternative fuel projects in the six-county Chicago area. The current incentive funds available are Drive Clean Truck, Drive Clean Taxi and Drive Clean Station.  The Drive Clean Truck Voucher program is a point of sale discount program for the purchase or lease of electric and hybrid trucks and buses. The Drive Clean Taxi voucher program offers point of sale discounts on electric public passenger vehicles including taxis, transportation network providers and livery vehicles.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

The City of Chicago offers a 1-day easy permit process for installing electric vehicle charging stations.

EV Charging Locations

The City has 456 charging ports available for public use, equivalent to 16.9 ports per 100,000 people.

Electric School Bus Goal

Akron does not have an electric school bus goal.

EV Transit Bus Goal

The City transit Authority aims to be an all electric bus service by 2040. They have begun purchasing proterra e-buses to reach that goal.

Last Updated: October 2021

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Chicago supports the CREATE program, which is a public-private partnership between the city, state, and the six class 1 railroads and two switching railroads serving the region: Metra and Amtrak. Project benefits include fewer delays, reduced congestion, cost savings, reduced air pollution and fuel savings.

Last Updated: October 2021

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

The Chicago zoning Ordinance incentivizes development at or near transit stations by offering reductions in minimum lot area, increases in height, reduction in parking and increases in floor area. In addition, the city lists energy efficient design and projects located near public transportation as selection criteria preferences in the Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) for the allocation of 9% of Low-Income Housing Credits.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

Chicago has a Divvy for Everyone Program that provides a one-time $5 Annual Membership to qualifying residents. The Chicago Transit Authority has a reduced fare and free ride program for some residents.

Last Updated: October 2021

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 13.5 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), an investor-owned utility (IOU) is the primary electric service provider for the City of Chicago. Peoples Gas, an IOU, is Chicago’s primary natural gas supplier. To help Commonwealth Edison and Peoples Gas reach the state EERS target, the City of Chicago is an active promoter of energy efficiency programs. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) receives 25% of total funding for energy efficiency programs raised by utility tariffs to administer public-sector and low-income energy efficiency offerings. In 2018, responsibility for these programs shifted to electric and natural gas utilities. On the state level, Chicago strongly advocates for additional spending requirements for energy efficiency projects for all of its utilities.

The State of Illinois requires energy efficiency program spending and energy savings targets for its utilities through an EERS. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Illinois page of the State Database.

The Chicago Department of Water Management is the municipal utility that provides Chicago with drinking water services and stormwater management. The utilities partner to run some efficiency programs, as well as run some independently. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is the regional wastewater treatment utility and also coordinates stormwater management in Cook County.

Last Updated: July 2021

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2019, ComEd reported 1,700,029 MWh in net incremental electric energy savings, representing 1.96% of retail sales. In 2019, ComEd spent $351,381,798 on electric energy efficiency programs, which represents 7.08% of its retail revenue.

In 2019, Peoples Gas reported savings of 9.75 MMtherms from natural gas efficiency programs, representing 1.05% of its retail sales. In 2019, Peoples Gas spent $23,434,030 on natural gas energy efficiency, which equates to $28.79 per residential customer. These savings figures cover the entire Illinois service territory, not just Chicago.

ComEd offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers. Peoples Gas similarly offers natural gas efficiency programs to residential and business customers.

The city promotes energy efficiency programs and other rebate and incentives under Retrofit Chicago and the Smart Grid Program in partnership with ComEd and Peoples Gas. Retrofit Chicago is marketed by city staff and non-profit partners through neighborhood outreach and engagement including community workshops, educational materials, and online resources. The Smart Grid Program is coordinating citywide outreach on smart meters and energy efficiency by visiting community service centers, community events, and holding workshops at Chicago Public Libraries, senior centers, and other locations to share information. Natural gas programs also fall under Retrofit Chicago and are promoted in conjunction with electric utility incentives, engaging with both residential and commercial customers. Peoples Gas is an ongoing sponsor as noted on the Retrofit Chicago website.

Last Updated: July 2021

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

Until June 1, 2017, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) ran the Illinois Energy Now program, which provided a portfolio of dual fuel electric and natural gas efficiency programs administered by the state, targeting households at 80% of the area median income. Section 8-103 of the Public Utilities Act directed ComEd and Peoples Natural Gas to coordinate with DCEO regarding the implementation of these programs. On June 1, 2017, the Illinois Energy Now program was closed, and the DCEO handed off administration of the state’s low-income efficiency programs to the utilities.

ComEd offers multiple low-income programs, including Single-Family Retrofits, Multi-Family Retrofits, Affordable Housing New Construction, Public Housing Authority Program, Food Bank LED Distribution, Income Eligible Lighting Discounts, income-eligible Energy Savings Kits, and Existing Manufactured Homes Retrofits. ComEd’s 2019 evaluation includes more details on each program’s design and measures served. More information about each program can be found on ComEd’s website for income-eligible program. Both the single and multifamily retrofit programs braid costs between utility funds and funds provided by the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP) to address both energy efficiency and health and safety measures.

ComEd partners with local community groups, including nonprofits, food banks, religious organizations, and for-profit groups to implement their low-income programs. ComEd coordinates program delivery with the state’s Weatherization Assistance Program. For programs coordinated with WAP, health and safety costs are split 50-50 between state and utility programs. For projects in partnership with Chicago Bungalow Associate and Elevate Energy, as well as the Public Housing Program, the utilities cover 100% of the necessary health and safety costs. Additionally, projects completed under the Affordable Housing New Construction Program typically leverage Illinois Housing Development Authority funding for health and safety measures.

Peoples Gas runs numerous Income-Eligible programs in five program categories: 1) Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP), 2) Single-Family Income Eligible Program, 3) Multi-Family Income Eligible Program, 4) Affordable Housing New Construction, and 5) Multi-Family Public Housing Authority (PHA) Program. Peoples Gas leverages funds from the federally funded Weatherization Assistance program and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Income eligible programs offer health and safety measures, including installation of vents, power venting combustion appliances, electrical repairs, asbestos and mold remediation.

For the Single-Family Income-Eligible (SFIE) Program, Peoples Gas partners with the Chicago Bungalow Association (CBA) for outreach and customer intake support. Within the Income-Eligible Multi-Family (IEMF) Program, Peoples Gas partnered with Elevate Energy for outreach and implementation support. With the Illinois Housing Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP) program, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas partners with non-profit Community Action Agencies within Cook County and Lake County. 

In 2019, ComEd achieved 219,829 MWh of energy savings, while spending $45,310,943 while serving 2,183 in the single-family program, 618 multifamily buildings, and 10 affordable housing new construction. In 2019, Peoples Gas achieved 1.00 MMtherms of savings, while spending $9,232,823 and serving 6,258 single family homes.

The City is in the process of expanding its Roof and Porch Emergency Repair program to include new measures available to income-eligible homeowners. The new Repair Program will explore ways for the City to reduce utility costs, provide greater comfort for homeowners, ensure a more sustainable and resilient housing stock, and align with the City's climate goals.

Multifamily Programs

ComEd offers the Multifamily Market-Rate Program. The program provides energy assessments and installation of various energy-saving measures, including LEDs, water-saving devices, programmable thermostats, and pipe insulation.

ComEd also offers the Income Eligible Retrofits Multi-Family Program, which provides direct installation of energy efficiency measures and replacement of inefficient equipment as well as educational information to further save money on energy bills. Eligible measures include LEDs and energy efficient lighting retrofits, programmable thermostats, advanced power strips, water efficiency devices, weatherization measures, pipe insulation, and heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment. The program is implemented by Resource Innovations (RI) and leverages the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP). The program provides retrofits in both common areas (CA) and tenant spaces and serves as a “one stop shop” for multi-family building owners and managers whose buildings are targeted to income eligible residents.

Peoples Gas also offers the Multi-Family Program. This comprehensive program offers free energy assessments for multifamily building owners and no-cost direct install of high efficiency showerheads, faucet aerators, programmable thermostats, pipe insulation and compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). Rebates for additional energy-saving equipment are also available. This comprehensive program is jointly delivered with ComEd and offers free energy assessments for multi-family building owners and no-cost direct installation of high efficiency showerheads, faucet aerators, programmable thermostats, pipe insulation and high-efficiency lighting. Rebates for additional energy-saving equipment are also available. Peoples Gas also offers the Multi-Family Income Eligible Program, which includes prescriptive gas rebates, energy assessments, and direct-install at income-qualified multi-family buildings.

In 2019, ComEd achieved 14,131 MWh of savings, while spending $7,526,559 on its multifamily programs and serving 699 unique multifamily buildings. In 2019, Peoples Gas achieved 2.71 MMtherms of savings, while spending $4,009,148 on its multifamily programs and serving 5,135 housing units at 1,011 multifamily buildings with its multifamily programs.

Last Updated: July 2021

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

ComEd provides automated benchmarking services to building owners. ComEd's Energy Usage Data Tool provides monthly aggregate electric data to buildings with four or more tenants. Buildings covered under the Chicago Benchmarking Ordinance can comply with the ordinance by using data provided by the tool. Peoples Gas provides data upon request that can be uploaded into Portfolio Manager, but it is not an automated service.

ComEd and Peoples Gas provide energy usage data to the city who uses the data in their planning processes. The city’s greenhouse gas inventory includes community-wide energy data. The city has released greenhouse gas inventories for the years 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2017 (released in 2020).

The City of Chicago continues to advocate for polices that require their utilities to expand the availability and granularity of energy usage data. The city also regularly works with utilities to ensure their data access tools are operating as intended. If the City receives any complaints or hears of issues through its Energy Benchmarking Help Center or other resources, the City works with the utilities to address the issues until they are resolved.

Last Updated: July 2021

Decarbonization and Climate Change Mitigation Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Utility Climate Mitigation Goal

In 2018, Exelon, the parent company of ComEd, announced a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its internal operations by 15% by 2022 from a 2015 baseline. To achieve this goal, Exelon will need to reduce emissions by 4.2% annually from 2018 levels.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

Under Mayor Lor Lightfoot’s leadership, the City is working to move forward equitable, affordable, and resilient clean energy for the city through its choice and negotiations with its electricity delivery franchise authority. The City anticipates moving to the next stage of its franchising process in late 2021. That stage of the process will include an energy and equity agreement that establishes environmental and consumer objectives for the city, which includes climate and energy clean targets.

In February 2021, the City of Chicago submitted public comments in support for amending the Illinois Commerce Commission’s interconnection rules to support community solar project and distributed generation and energy storage systems. The city requested that the Commission center decisions around cost-mitigation for Black, Latinx, and low-income communities, transparency in grid planning, and flexibility for the future.

In 2019, Mayor Lori Lightfoot endorsed the proposed Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), which would continue to strengthen renewable energy goals statewide, calling on the governor and state legislature to pass this bill. As of June 2021, CEJA was still in the legislative process.

Chicago has been a key partner in ComEd's Community of the Future program, targeting the Bronzeville area of Chicago. The project includes a microgrid, and several pilots and programs to create a smarter and more connected community. As part of the microgrid, the City, the Chicago Housing Authority, and ComEd partnered to add 700 kW of solar panels on a public housing facility called Dearborn Homes.

Last Updated: July 2021

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Citywide Water Efficiency and Goals

Although Chicago’s water and energy utilities do not run joint water and energy efficiency programs, Chicago’s city-run MeterSave program provides significant incentives to the community. Through the MeterSave program, the city’s Department of Water Management (DWM) supplies a free water meter to unmetered residents and business customers and guarantees bills will be lower than the estimated rate for 7 years post installation. The City of Chicago also offers rain barrels and indoor or outdoor conservation kits to homeowners. In addition, both energy utilities offer water efficiency measures in their energy efficiency programs. For example, the ComEd Energy Efficiency Program includes measures such as low flow aerators, low flow showerheads, pre-rinse spray valves, clothes washers, and dishwashers.

The City of Chicago has a goal to decrease water use by 2% annually, according to the Sustainable Chicago 2015 plan. The City of Chicago also has a program to aggressively replace old water mains, thus reducing water loss from leaking pipes. Through Building a New Chicago, DWM is replacing 900 miles of water main—most of which are over 100 years old—over a 10-year period. DWM has now installed more than 135,000 meters on homes since 2001. By City ordinance, commercial buildings are required to install their own during construction. The City has now replaced over 550 miles of water main under its current capital program and will meet its goal of replacing 900 miles by 2021.

Water Plant Efficiency and Self-Generation

Both the Department of Water Management (DWM) and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) have extensive programs to increase energy efficiency across operations and are pursuing energy efficiency initiatives. DWM is converting several steam-powered turbines and boilers at five pumping stations in the water distribution system to electricity, saving more than $6.4 million/year in energy costs, with additional savings from lower operating costs, and a greenhouse gas emission reduction of 75%. The conversion of the pumping stations from steam to electricity are part of the “Building a New Chicago” program. The Springfield Pumping Station was fully converted from steam to electricity in 2017. The energy efficient station has reduced its carbon footprint and will save an estimated $4M annually with improved reliability and efficiency. The Central Park Pumping Station began construction in Dec 2018 for a similar conversion. The department estimates an annual savings of $4.5M in energy and maintenance expenses.

MWRD has also implemented a sewer thermal heat and cooling system to save energy at its water reclamation plant, where methane is also collected for electricity generation. Moreover, the MWRD operates several anaerobic digesters, generating up to one-third of its energy from the digestion process. A new project will divert 440 tons a day of food waste from the city of Chicago’s solid waste stream, feed it into the digesters at the Calumet treatment plant in Chicago, generate 160% more methane gas, and sell some of this gas back into the natural gas pipeline.

Last Updated: July 2021

Local Government Score:
2.5 out of 10 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The City of Chicago’s sustainability goals derive mostly from mayoral executive orders. Previously, the city released the Sustainable Chicago 2015 plan to guide municipal climate and energy action.

Climate Mitigation Goal

Executive Order No. 2017-1 committed the entire city to greenhouse gas emission reductions consistent with the Paris Accord. The commitment would achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions of 26% to 28% below a 2005 baseline. ACEEE was unable to project if the city will achieve its near-term GHG emissions reduction goal for municipal operations because insufficient GHG emissions data were available for our analysis.

Energy Reduction Goal

We did not find information regarding a municipal energy reduction goal, though the Sustainable Chicago 2015 plan includes a goal to improve energy efficiency in municipal buildings by 10%.

Renewable Energy Goal

A 2019 resolution pledged  that City buildings will consume 100% renewable energy by 2035.

Last updated: May 2021

Procurement and Construction Policies List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

According to the 2015 Sustainable Chicago Action Plan, the city aims to reduce municipal fossil fuel consumption by 10%, replace 3% of on-road fleet vehicles with cleaner vehicles annually, and reduce the energy intensity of Chicago Transit Authority rail service by 12% from 2011 levels. Additionally, the City’s Fleet and Facilities Management (2FM) Department has a policy to increase the number of non-CPD (Chicago Police Department) leased light-duty vehicles to 366. This policy has reduced the size of the City’s light-duty fleet; lowered the average age of light-duty vehicles being used by the City; and reduced fuel use and maintenance expenses. This city monitors the use of its public fleet through the Fleet Center System, which incorporates GPS technology to increase public fleet efficiency. Additionally, the City has committed to electrifying 25% of its eligible passenger vehicle fleet by 2023 and has obtained a $15M Federal grant to assist in achieving this goal. As part of the City’s fleet electrification grant, it has federal funds to install 20 DC Fast Chargers and 80 Level 2 chargers at the airports. The Chicago Transit Authority has piloted 2 electric buses and awarded a contract for 20 new electric buses in June 2018. 

We were unable to find data regarding fleet composition.

Public Lighting

The City of Chicago owns and operates all of the public outdoor lighting. Chicago is working on the procurement of a large scale lighting modernization project that will impact 85% of Chicago’s outdoor lights. The luminaire specification for all LED fixtures included in the Chicago Smart Light Program requires dimmable drivers and receptacles for 7-pin light control devices. The combination of a lighting management system and “smart luminaires” is projected to reduce lighting electric consumption by at least 60%. As of March 2019, the Chicago Smart Lighting Program (CSLP) has installed 100,000 new LED smart streetlight fixtures has part of the four-year modernization program. These upgrades account for about 37% of all streetlights in Chicago.

Onsite and offsite renewable systems 

Chicago has installed about 800 kW of solar capacity on city facilities.

Inclusive procurements 

Chicago’s PACE program requires large projects to meet Minority Owned Business Enterprises and Woman Owned Business Enterprises contracting goals. MWBE requirements were included in a recent community solar RFP.

Last updated: May 2021

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking 

Chicago benchmarks all buildings over 50,000 square feet under the City’s benchmarking policy. The City publicly discloses data of all private and public buildings with benchmarking requirements.

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategy

The Sustainable Chicago 2015 Plan has a goal to improve energy efficiency in municipal buildings by 10%. The city has three contracts with energy services companies to retrofit Chicago's municipal projects. Initial savings associated with these contracts appear to be approximately $9.4 million in energy costs for 2016, a portion of which comes from the energy efficiency upgrades. 

Last updated: May 2021