Green Office Challenge Round 3 Awards Announced

chicago_aerialThe winners of the 2013 Chicago Green Office Challenge were announced at a reception held today at the Chicago Cultural Center. The Green Office Challenge is a friendly competition to encourage area businesses to adopt sustainable practices in their workspaces that promote efficiency, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The Green Office Challenge is an impact-focused competition that works with local companies and their employees to reduce environmental impact while saving money and driving positive business results,” said City of Chicago Chief Sustainability Officer Karen Weigert. “Congratulations to all participants, and thank you for your concrete efforts to make Chicago even more sustainable.”

In this third round of the challenge, technology played an expanded role, as innovative online tools allowed participants—including buildings, offices and, for the first time, individuals—to log their activities and earn points. This new, gamified approach stirred up inter- and intra-office competition, driving sustainable activities across the city.

“In addition to greening offices across the City, the Challenge is also providing participants with the tools and know-how they need to take these sustainability lessons into their homes,” said Jean Pogge, Delta Institute CEO. “Delta Institute is proud to help inspire that sustainability ripple effect across the Chicago Metropolitan Region.” Delta administered Round 3 of the Green Office Challenge for the City of Chicago.

For the first time, the Challenge encouraged tenants to not only reduce energy use, but also to quantify their impact. Those who reported noted a collective 11% reduction in energy use. Over 40 businesses retrofitted energy systems, including lighting efficiency upgrades and lighting controls installations while more than 50 installed appliance controls to reduce energy used by copiers, kitchen appliances, computers and more.

Many participants assessed and redesigned their approach to recycling, including 20 businesses that added composting and 28 businesses that changed their recycling infrastructure to improve results. There was a reported 3,500 tons of office paper, cardboard, bottles and cans collectively recycled during this round.

Participants also found creative ways to reduce their water impact, including the elimination of plastic water bottles and reduced water consumption through behavioral changes. Notably, the Merchandise Mart changed out 188 of its highest-use water fixtures, saving over 4 million gallons of water. Managed by Behringer Harvard, 222 South Riverside Plaza installed a customized system to reclaim condensation from the cooling system, reducing their water consumption by tens of thousands of gallons last year.

This year, awards were presented in the following categories:

Building energy reduction award winner U.S. Equities, 515 N. State
Tenant energy reduction award winner Mayer Brown
Best 3-year energy performance Hines, 333 W. Wacker
Building waste reduction award winner U.S. Equities, 515 N. State
Tenant waste reduction award winner Perkins+Will
Building water reduction award 555 W. Monroe
Tenant participation award winner Perkins+Will
Tenant participation runner-up 71 S. Wacker Drive Holdings
Building participation award winner 71 S. Wacker Drive Holdings
Building participation runner-up Means Knaus Partners, 300 South Riverside Plaza
Social Media Master Brigitte Cox, Messe Dusseldorf North America
Most activities logged Nicole Lawler, 71 S. Wacker Drive Holdings
Property manager with most engaged tenants Susan Hammer, AMA plaza

Originally launched in 2008, this citywide competition has expanded in participation year after year and has served as a model for over a dozen similar sustainability competitions across the country. There were 185 tenants and 21 buildings new to the competition this round, as well as over 1,000 individual competitors.

The Challenge creates an opportunity for participating companies to engage their employees in achieving corporate sustainability goals. Participants also reduce operating expenses while cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The Challenge is also a way for local businesses to help achieve citywide environmental goals outlined in the Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda.

The City of Chicago, Office Depot, and Delta Institute expect to launch Round 4 of the Chicago Green Office Challenge in September 2014. To learn more and sign up to participate in the 2014 Chicago Green Office Challenge, visit

Photo: Nate Brelsford

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