I’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
The GridWise Alliance, a leading business forum for the development of a smart, clean, modern electric grid, just released its 3rd Annual Grid Modernization Index – a ranking of states’ progress towards a more sustainable energy system. The Index goes beyond tracking investments that modernize the electric system; it explores the policies these investments can support, such as increasing efficiency and reducing emissions. The report also delves into the valuable services customers can expect from smart technology investments in the grid.
Grid modernization isn’t simply about replacing aging infrastructure – it’s about managing energy in new ways, namely through sensors and digital communication. Greater visibility and control as a result of these investments can create a dynamic electric system that is more efficient, better manages costs, improves customer service, and protects our limited resources.
In addition to possibly giving your home state something to brag about, the results of this Index offer plenty of useful information on how states have modernized the grid and charted their own course toward making smarter energy choices. Read More
By Lisa Albrecht, renewable energy specialist with Solar Service Inc., and member of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition
This week, Illinois Governor Rauner gave his annual State of the State address – but, there was one big thing missing. Despite broad bipartisan support across the state for action on clean energy, Gov. Rauner failed to address this issue at all.
In summing up Illinois’ current priorities, Gov. Rauner should have looked to the remarks he himself delivered in his first State of the State address last year:
“Our top priority must be making Illinois competitive again, to grow more jobs here… Competitiveness must become our watchword.”
“We must avoid slipping further behind other states in…the capacity of our economy to grow.”
“It’s now or never for Illinois. It’s time to act.”
Those are sound principles. And, if the Governor is still committed to them, there is a clear and obvious path to achieving them: by embracing Illinois’ clean energy future through the Clean Power Plan and the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill. Read More
Also posted in Clean Energy
It started with U.S. Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz. He was in Chicago to give a high-profile speech on the Iranian nuclear deal and had two free hours after the luncheon address. His staff called to ask if the secretary could come over to our office, which houses Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), an assortment of clean-energy start-ups, and the Energy Foundry, essentially a private-equity firm financing such entrepreneurs. Hard to say no to the head of the U.S. Department of Energy.
About a month later, we get a call from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Gina McCarthy, head of the EPA, was going to be in Chicago for a press conference. She had some free time in the late morning and wondered if she, too, could drop by to talk. Who’s going to deny the EPA administrator?
After another month, we get another call. This time from the U.S. Small Business Administration, whose administrator, Maria Contreras-Sweet, was going to be in Chicago. She had heard from colleagues that our office was the “place to be,” and wanted her own informative tour. What could we say?
The U.S. is currently undergoing a major transition to a cleaner, smarter, more efficient electric grid, and Illinois is at the heart of this change – which is clearly attracting interest from prominent leaders. So what exactly did our high-profile guests want to learn about? Read More
By: David Kolata, Citizens Utility Board executive director, and Dick Munson, EDF Midwest director, clean energy
If Illinois wants a cheaper, cleaner, and more stable power grid, then we have to put policies in place that make it easier for people to adopt solar in their neighborhoods.
Fortunately, solar energy’s future looks a little brighter in Illinois since two recent Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) rulings. The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) applaud the decisions after months of dogged work advocating the reforms.
On November 13, the ICC simplified solar interconnection standards, enabling Illinoisans to more easily connect their solar panels to the power grid. It’s now cheaper than ever to generate electricity using solar panels, and the costs keep coming down. But we need to cut administrative burdens to make it easier for people to enjoy cheaper, cleaner power – and the ICC’s decision is an important step in this direction. Read More
Buildings 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