The following letter to the editor ran in the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times on June 19, 2012.
In 2009, commercial buildings in the U.S. were found to be responsible for 18.9 percent of the total U.S. energy consumption and 19 percent of our nation's carbon-dioxide emissions. The commercial sector spent more than $176 billion on energy in 2009.
These numbers demonstrate the tremendous opportunity in commercial buildings to reduce energy and emissions while also saving property owners and managers substantial expenses. Considering this, we believe Mayor Rahm Emanuel's recently announced Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings Initiative is right on target and, really, is just the starting point for saving money and energy from our buildings.
We would like to applaud the owners of the 14 Chicago buildings -- including landmarks such as the Wrigley and Santa Fe buildings -- who committed to reduce their energy use by 20 percent over the next five years. We encourage others to follow their example.
Energy efficiency initiatives like Retrofit Chicago promote being green in more ways than one. They not only benefit our environment by reducing energy use but also benefit the local economy by saving on utility bills while also creating jobs and generating economic activity to support the greening of buildings.
In addition to efficient technology solutions that are available, there are many energy-efficiency measures at low or no cost that can produce big results. One example is the Building Operator Certification program, which trains and certifies building engineers to run their buildings more efficiently. Chicago has the best building stock of any city in the world. By keeping our historic structures efficient and competitive, we can ensure their longevity while solidifying Chicago's reputation as the nation's leading "green" city.
-- Jay Wrobel, executive director, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Chicago