Chicago Commits to 100% Renewable Energy Among City-Owned Buildings

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has commitment to shift city-owned buildings to 100% renewable energy by 2025. If implemented, Chicago would be the country’s largest city to decarbonize the energy supply of its public buildings.

The city, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Park District, Chicago Housing Authority and City Colleges of Chicago collectively used nearly 1.8 billion kilowatt hours of electricity last year. Equivalent to the power needs of around 295,000 homes, that figure amounts to 8% of all electricity used in Chicago. Approximately 300 wind turbines could generate the annual energy needs of the buildings under these agencies’ purview.

“As the Trump administration pulls back on building a clean energy economy, Chicago is doubling down,” Mayor Emanuel said. “By committing the energy used to power our public buildings to wind and solar energy, we are sending a clear signal that we remain committed to building a 21st century economy here in Chicago.”

The mayor announced this new initiative among the 900 solar panels on the rooftop of Shedd Aquarium, a well-chosen location as the Shedd has itself committed to cutting their energy use in half by 2020. A member of the Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge, Shedd Aquarium also installed a 60,000 pound, one-megawatt battery on their own property last summer.

The city aims to acquire renewable energy credits and install on-site generation in a one-two punch to achieve 100% clean power usage across its portfolio of buildings. Procurement will begin starting next year. This is merely a continuation of past trends. a dozen CPS schools already have solar array installations and the Park District and City Colleges already procure renewable energy credits. Starting in 2013, the city has also eliminated coal from the 1 billion kilowatt hours plus it purchases annually.

“Today’s action is a historic step forward in establishing Chicago as a clean energy leader,” said Jack Darin, Illinois Sierra Club President. “By moving boldly to repower its public buildings with renewable energy like wind and solar, Chicago is leading by example at a time when local leadership is more important than ever. While President Trump and his administration would reverse America’s progress on climate change and clean energy, Mayor Emanuel is ensuring that Chicago will move forward, and that its residents will benefit from the good jobs and cleaner air that come from renewable energy projects. We look forward to working with the Mayor, community leaders, and the people of Chicago to achieve this bold goal on the path to eventually powering all of Chicago with 100% clean energy.”

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