Improving energy performance in buildings is a key strategy for the City of Chicago, which has committed to upholding the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. This includes a 26-28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025; the city is currently 40% of the way to meeting that goal. Because the energy used in buildings accounts for over 70% of the city’s current greenhouse gas emissions, reducing building energy use is essential to meeting this goal.
October 16-20 is “Careers in Energy Week” for the state of Illinois. Governor Rauner has recognized that a strong and diverse energy workforce is critical to support the large demand for safe, reliable and affordable energy to support Illinois families, communities and businesses. Energy efficiency is a key component to ensure affordability and reliability for years to come.
As a membership organization that includes utilities, businesses, advocates and government agencies, MEEA knows the power of collaboration. Time and again, we’ve seen first-hand that when diverse groups sit down at the table together, we’re able to harness our collective expertise and experience to find solutions that work for everyone.
And we’re not the only ones who think collaboration is a powerful tool. Several states in the Midwest currently convene collaborative groups to promote energy efficiency.
Property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing is off and running in the Midwest. PACE enables homeowners and commercial building owners to finance energy efficiency improvements through a special assessment on their property that is paid back through their tax bill. To date, there are 15 active PACE programs in the MEEA footprint. PACE-enabling legislation exists in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio and Nebraska, and legislation in Illinois has passed both state legislative houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature.
On March 22, 2017, the Illinois Commerce Commission passed a resolution initiating the NextGrid Utility of the Future Study. NextGrid will be an 18-month collaborative process to explore the ways in which alternative utility regulatory models, advances in technology, and consumer preferences and engagement can shape the grid of the future. This initiative will build upon the 2011 Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, the Illinois Statewide Smart Grid Collaborative and the recent Future Energy Jobs Act.
Did you know that for every 10 Chicagoans, there is a hard-working street light brightening their path? In fact, the largest city in the Midwest has a network of more than 300,000 street lights that collectively form a nightlight visible from space. Until now, less than 2% of these lights have been converted to LED, the new standard in efficient, effective outdoor lighting, but that’s about to change.
On June 16, MEEA hosted its annual Meeting of the Membership in Rosemont, Illinois just a few miles outside of Chicago. This event was another opportunity for MEEA's members, board and staff to come together to see old friends, make new connections and discuss what’s new in the field of energy efficiency. New board members were elected, and the latest Annual Report was unveiled. It was also a great venue for MEEA to get feedback on what we can do to add value to and improve the member experience.
Buildings comprise around 40 percent of the total energy consumption in the United States, and benchmarking policies have proven to be a crucial first step to achieving energy savings.
The Evanston City Council is currently considering a water and energy benchmarking ordinance to better track and reduce energy waste and costs for its residents. The proposed ordinance has been in development since March 2015, and the council is expected to vote on the ordinance at its Monday, December 12 meeting.
Several employees from the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) had the opportunity to test out the Association for Energy Affordability Inc. (AEA) building efficiency training facility on South Central Ave., near Midway International Airport.