Chicago buildings to go 100% renewable

Public buildings in Chicago will be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025. Mayor Rahm Emanuel calls this a clear signal that the city is committed to renewable energy.

Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced that the city will power all of its public buildings with renewable energy by 2025. This will make the Windy City the largest major city in the US to have 100 per cent renewable energy for its public buildings.

“As the Trump administration pulls back on building a clean energy economy, Chicago is doubling down,” Emanuel said. “By committing the energy used to power our public buildings to wind and solar energy, we are sending a clear signal that we remain committed to building a 21st century economy here in Chicago.”

Collectively, the public buildings in Chicago used nearly 1.8 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2016, amounting to eight per cent of all electricity use in the city. This is equivalent to powering around 295,000 Chicago homes.

Emanuel’s announcement was welcomed by environmental groups. Jack Darin, the president of Illinois Sierra Club, said: “Chicago is leading by example at a time when local leadership is more important than ever”.

Chicago has already taken considerable strides in recent years to embrace renewable energy and build what it calls “a 21st century economy”.

For instance, Emanuel made Sunday’s announcement on the rooftop of the Shedd Aquarium, which has already installed over 900 solar panels in a bid to reduce its energy use by 50 per cent by 2020. Likewise, a dozen of the city’s public schools have had solar arrays installed since 2009.

And in 2013, the city eliminated coal from the over 1 billion kilowatt hours in electricity that it buys each year. And with positive environmental results to show for it: in January, Emanual announced that the city reduced its carbon emissions by seven per cent from 2010 to 2015. This reduction came at the same time that Chicago saw its population increase by 25,000 people and a 12 per cent growth in jobs within the city.


Image credit: Roman Boed, flickr/Creative Commons

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