Chicago decarbonization working group releases recommendations

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Chicago Construction News staff writer

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The Chicago Building Decarbonization Working Group (CBDWG) report released last week recommends ways to address 70% of citywide greenhouse gas emissions from city buildings.

Powering Chicago, the labor-management partnership between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134 and the Electrical Contractors’ Association of Chicago and Cook County, is proud to stand in support of the CBDWG as we look for ways to provide a greener future for Chicagoans,” said Elbert Walters III, Director of Powering Chicago.

“The unionized electrical industry is deeply committed to a cleaner tomorrow by providing the expert contractors and the skilled workforce that are able to meet the growing demand of renewable energy components, such as solar systems, battery storage systems, electrical vehicle charger systems, and more. Powering contractors and union electricians stand ready to meet the goal of powering 100% of buildings citywide with renewable energy by 2035.”

The team researched best practices in decarbonization from 12 North American cities, held focus groups and in-depth interviews with leaders citywide and experts across many sectors.

The CBDWG recommendations will serve as a guide for future policy development focused on  existing buildings, new construction, and financial and technical assistance and developed policies to:

  • Equitably advance decarbonization for all, particularly homeowners, community anchors, and local businesses in Chicago’s historically underserved communities
  • Drastically reduce fossil fuel use and establish the highest efficiency standards for new construction.
  • Improve building energy use and performance through energy retrofits, advancement of renewable energy, and the electrification of existing buildings.

The report highlights 26 strategies including policy changes, programs, and studies aimed at the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 62% citywide by 2040.

“The City of Chicago is primed to decarbonize our buildings while delivering equitable co-benefits for every resident,” said Angela Tovar, chief sustainability officer. “The report’s findings prove that the benefits of building decarbonization extend far beyond emissions reductions; these proposed strategies can create healthy buildings that improve indoor air quality and support wealth-building opportunities for disenfranchised communities in the green economy.”

The Green Recovery Agenda will use $31 million to retrofit residential buildings and community anchor institutions.

“I am so proud of our city and architectural community coming together to tackle our building emissions,” said Chyanne Husar, principal at HUS Architecture and member of the AIA Small Firm Exchange/Small Project Design Knowledge community. “What’s even more exciting is the way we’ll be able to utilize these solutions to bring equality to our disadvantaged communities.

“I am looking forward to being a part of these monumental changes through our work at HUSarchitecture in partnership with the AIA Small Firm Exchange/Small Project Design Knowledge Community, IL Green, and with the rest of our Chicago neighbors.”

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