Author Archives: Ellen Bell

Pilot program will use data to transform the efficiency of Chicago buildings

Over the past few years, Chicago has established itself as a leader in energy-efficient buildings.

The city’s landmark energy benchmarking program, for which properties measure and report on their energy use, has already saved Chicago over $17 million, while supporting high-paying jobs and healthier air. Relatedly, for the second year in a row, Chicago had the highest percentage of buildings with LEED certification (the most widely-used green building rating system in the world).

Industry pioneers have worked hard to make each building’s equipment as efficient as possible. The next opportunity is to work with those innovators to determine, how do we get the teams that use the equipment to make more energy-efficient decisions every day?

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), in partnership with local utility ComEd and the Accelerate Group, is building on Chicago’s leadership to find a solution by launching the Smart Building Operations Pilot. An innovative program that uses real-time energy data to incentivize energy-efficient choices, the pilot aims to inform the day-to-day decisions of equipment operators at 10 large Chicago buildings. Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency| Comments are closed

3 Reasons We Can Feel Good about Where Energy Efficiency is Headed

Buildings2“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.” – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax.

As a child, that line from the classic Dr. Seuss book struck a chord in me, far beyond the giggle it caused when I thought of trees having tongues. The quote clearly imprinted the idea that – when a situation needs attention – those who can speak, should. For me, one of those situations is sharing the good news that energy-efficient buildings are cleaner and smarter than ever.

Buildings can be big polluters: 70 percent of the world population will live in cities by 2050, adding 40 percent to the current world building stock. As energy-efficient structures develop in growing countries, the U.S. can help stay competitive by retrofitting its existing buildings. Plus, improving building efficiency can contribute to reductions in global CO2 emissions from buildings by 83 percent below business-as-usual by 2050, reports the World Resources Institute.

I believe we are well on our way to creating a cleaner, smarter energy future. My optimism is fueled by efficiency trends in three important arenas: people, places, and partnerships.

Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Grid Modernization, Illinois| Comments are closed

Valuing Energy Efficiency: The Case for Consensus

money building pixabayIn my time immersed in commercial real estate energy management, I have met a multitude of building owners, managers, and engineers whose love for their properties is clear.

Last month at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings Summit in Washington, DC, I was lucky enough to once again spend time in the company of these inspiring commercial real estate professionals. This particular group takes that passion one step further. By publicly pledging to be industry leaders in energy efficiency, driving efforts to accelerate investment, and sharing success stories and lessons learned, the summit’s attendees are maximizing their operations and the value of their buildings.

Despite this shared commitment, I still find a common thread lost in translation between the industry’s stakeholders: the value of energy efficiency. These groups don’t always speak the same language and, when it comes to financing and implementing energy efficiency, this disconnect is often even more pronounced.

It’s time for the real estate market to collectively decide that it values energy efficiency, and make it an integral, uniform part of all core business decisions. Without consensus, the building-efficiency industry is just going to tread water – and miss out on a whole lot of savings.  Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Illinois| Comments are closed

Filling the Gap: How Efficiency Standards could Save Billions in Commercial Real Estate

office building unsplashNo one ignores an opportunity to save billions of dollars. Numbers of that size are enough to make an audience take notice, even in a business like commercial real estate, where deals in the hundreds of millions and billions are commonplace.

Each year the U.S. spends over $400 billion on energy for our buildings, many of which were constructed before modern energy codes existed and, as a result, use more energy than they should. This efficiency gap has led to the creation of a $20 billion retrofit industry, designed to help building owners and managers overcome barriers that deter them from tackling energy costs, like lack of information, misaligned financial incentives, or insufficient capital. In my hometown of Chicago alone, buildings could save up to $184 million in energy costs if they pursued more aggressive energy management – and those are just the ones reporting data. Read More »

Posted in Energy Financing, Illinois, Investor Confidence Project| Read 2 Responses

Illinois Leads on LEED, but Greater Energy Management Opportunity Awaits

Wrigley_Building_at_Night_Wikipedia-RFI’ve always been proud to be from Illinois. As a Midwestern girl who went out East for college, I spoke often about the wonders of my hometown of Chicago: from our miles of gorgeous public lakefront, to our proud history as the home of the first skyscraper. We have a scrappy side, too. As a city that rebuilt itself from scratch after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, we’ve always worn the title, ‘Second City’ as a badge of honor (and a chip on our shoulder, when it’s used as anything but a compliment).

That’s why when the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its annual Top 10 States for LEED, it came as no surprise to me that Illinois topped the list for the third year in a row. The ranking evaluates states based on sustainable building design, construction, and transformation, demonstrating Illinois’ progressive leadership when it comes to energy management in buildings.

Illinois has taken the lead, but property managers who haven’t jumped on the energy efficiency bandwagon yet should join now – there’s plenty of room. It’s never too late to pursue efficiency opportunities that benefit your organization’s bottom line. Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Illinois| Comments are closed

Energy Management Tools Boost Older Buildings’ Efficiency and Bottom Lines

CaptureBuildings use nearly 40 percent of all energy in the U.S. and account for a third of our greenhouse gases. Today, a growing number of commercial real estate leaders are looking for opportunities to upgrade what they’ve already got – rather than starting from scratch – to save money and lessen their environmental impact. These commercial real estate leaders know there is a great deal of potential in starting small, and in focusing on what best serves their bottom line.

Organizations that need a more tailored approach to making their real estate energy-efficient have a myriad of opportunities that are now being pioneered by property owners across the country. Leading companies are applying outside-the-box energy management solutions to buildings constructed before the green-building boom.

Here are two examples of companies that enlisted Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps program to accelerate clean energy projects in their facilities and meet their corporate energy goals: Read More »

Posted in California, Demand Response, EDF Climate Corps, Energy Efficiency, Illinois| Comments are closed
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