City of Chicago Issues Green Office Challenge

Chicago’s initial Green Office Challenge honored 34 property-management firms, companies and buildings in a contest to determine who has accomplished the most in terms of reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Sponsored by Mayor Richard M. Daley, the city’s Department of Environment and the non-profit ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, the competition is part of the Chicago Climate Action Plan.

The action plan is an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent less than 1990 levels by 2020.  The built environment is responsible for approximately 70 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, with commercial buildings responsible for nearly 40 percent.  The city is determined to cut energy use by 30 percent in 40 percent of homes and achieve similar reductions in half of commercial and industrial buildings.

The 34 firms and properties cited achieved some remarkable milestones.  For example, they slashed energy use by more than 70 million kilowatt-hours of electricity – that’s equal to 45,000 homes or 125,000 barrels of oil.  More than 54,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide were not sent into the atmosphere, the equivalent of taking 10,000 cars off Chicago streets.  Water use was cut by five percent, and more than 1,200 tons of materials did not end up in landfills.