Category Archives: Illinois

How EDF and Chicago are Leading the Way to Energy-Efficient Buildings

chicago-449021_1280One degree Fahrenheit.

Yes, that was Friday’s temperature in Chicago.

But instead of thinking about jetting off to a sandy beach in the Caribbean, my thoughts instead turn to a more practical matter. As I look across the Chicago skyline, I wonder how many of these buildings have old, inefficient heating systems.

The good news is that right here in Chicago, some building owners are finding better, more efficient ways to heat — and in balmier times, cool — their properties.

Over the past year, EDF, the City of Chicago, and some of the city’s leading building owners have teamed up to make real progress in cutting energy use and costs. 

The results of this partnership have helped Chicago move closer to the goal of the city’s Retrofit Chicago initiative: reduce commercial energy use in participating buildings by 20 percent in five years. The Mayor’s office has set the bar for energy savings, and EDF Climate Corps is providing boots on the ground to get it done. And Chicago’s leading building owners and operators are showing creativity and innovation in taking their energy management to the next level. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, EDF Climate Corps, Energy Efficiency| Comments closed

2014: A Positive Sign of What’s to come for Clean Energy

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0The New Year is a time for reflection, beginning with a look back on the previous 12 months and all that they brought. A quick scan of the U.S. climate and energy news in 2014 will tell you it was a very big year.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the U.S. and China struck a historic climate deal, and Tesla broke ground in Nevada on the largest advanced automotive-battery factory in the world – a  move that’s expected to slash the cost of lithium ion batteries by a third. At the same time that these important national and international advancements were grabbing headlines, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and our partners were working together to incrementally transform the U.S. electricity system by rewriting outdated regulations, spurring energy services markets, and modernizing our century-old electric grid.

The U.S. is on the verge of a revolution in the way we make, move, and use energy. And, having spent years working on governmental and regulatory matters related to our power system and lessening its impact on the environment, I can honestly say there has never been a more exciting time to be in this field. Here are a few of the moments that were near and dear to our hearts over the past year, developments I see as a sure signal 2015 will be another epic year for clean energy. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Energy Storage, Investor Confidence Project, New Jersey, New York, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Texas, Utility Business Models| Comments closed

Illinois Legislators Pledge Support for EPA’s Proposed Carbon Regulations

illinois legislatorsWhile the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sorts through the more than 1.6 million comments received on its proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP), one group is stepping out to pledge its support of the landmark proposal. 53 Illinois legislators recently signed a letter urging the EPA to finalize the plan, which will set limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants for the first time ever.

Power plants currently account for nearly 40 percent of the nation’s carbon pollution and Illinois’s proposed target would result in a 33 percent reduction in the state’s carbon output by 2030. Fortunately, due to impressive state efforts to invest in clean energy over the past few years, Illinois is well-positioned to meet the challenge.

CPP is an economic opportunity

The Illinois legislators argue the CPP will help the state “achieve even greater cuts in our emissions, health benefits for all our citizens, and will spur further growth in our state’s economy.” The CPP will further the state’s transition to a clean energy economy by attracting investment in innovation, creating more jobs, and keeping electricity prices affordable. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy| Comments closed

Disruptive is a Buzzword…but it’s true for Batteries

batteryFor more than 100 years, the U.S. power system relied on fossil-fueled power plants to meet our growing energy demand. Now, clean energy resources like renewables are quickly changing our energy mix. But what happens when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing? What about when power demand momentarily outpaces supply? That’s where batteries and energy storage come in, offering a fundamental, even disruptive change to the U.S. electricity system as we know it.

Batteries are energy game-changers

Today’s electricity system not only overproduces to be prepared for unforeseen problems, it also deploys dirty “peaker” plants that fire up during those few times per year when electricity demand is high (like during a heat wave) and the electric grid is stressed. With batteries, there’s no need for either overproduction or inefficient backup reserves, ultimately saving both utilities and customers money.

Batteries can provide bursts of electricity incredibly fast, often in milliseconds, and with far quicker reaction times than traditional power plants. As a result, energy storage helps the electric grid absorb and regulate power fluctuations, providing electricity fast, when and where it’s needed. Since the supply and demand of power must be carefully balanced, this ability helps prevent the grid from experiencing brownouts or blackouts. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid| Comments closed

How this Building Saved Energy and Made $80K (and Counting)

chicagowacker2_378x235For 10 weeks this summer, EDF Climate Corps fellow Karan Gupta worked for JLL, a commercial real estate firm, to optimize energy use at one of the company’s largest buildings: 77 West Wacker Dr., a 1-million-square-foot commercial office building in downtown Chicago.

At the core of Karan’s work was demand response – an energy savings tool that pays people to shift their electricity use to times of day when there is less demand on the power grid, or when more renewable energy is abundant.

I spoke with Myrna Coronado-Brookover, JLL’s senior vice president and general manager, to find out why her company placed a bet on this technology. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response| Comments closed

My Sleepover at Chicago's Merchandise Mart

By: Abdul Wadood, EDF Climate Corps Fellow and graduate student at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering

CPP Fellow Abdul_in front of The MartHow does one maintain a facility of 4.2 million square feet, with five acres of roofs, that is two city blocks long and has 375 tenants? And, how does a building built in 1930 (also the largest building in the world at that time) compete with current technological innovations and new energy conservation trends? The answer lies in having accurate data, which can be a challenge considering the sheer size and age of this particular building.

The building I am referring to is the Merchandise Mart. Also called ‘The Mart,’ this building centralizes Chicago’s wholesale goods businesses by consolidating home, office, casual furnishings and a large variety of luxury home kitchen & bath showrooms under one roof. At the same time, the building now forms part of Chicago’s growing tech triangle community near the famous city loop as 1871, Motorola Mobility, Braintree, All Scripts, CCC and Yelp are in the building.

Every EDF Climate Corps fellow can fathom the potential of implementing energy efficiency measures – especially since it is a current industry trend. However, this does not come without challenges. As a student at Duke, I thought putting in long study hours, deskbound in a library only to be chauffeured home by campus safety was difficult.

Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, General, Smart Grid| Comments closed