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article imageOp-Ed: LEED Certified Construction in Chicago

By Raluca Besliu     Oct 17, 2012 in Environment
The energy we use to operate the buildings where we work and shop costs around $200 billion every year. Last year, the energy used operating buildings represented more than 40 percent of all the energy used by the United States (U.S.) economy.
Around 30 percent of the energy used on buildings is wasted through inefficient design, materials, equipment and operations. Fortunately, there are ways to mend this situation. By implementing more efficient building practices, hiring Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) construction managers and by retrofitting buildings, businesses can save billions of dollars in energy costs, create jobs and reduce waste.
Introduced in 2000 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED certification verifies that buildings, homes and communities are constructed using strategies aimed at achieving performance in key areas of human and environmental health, such as sustainable site development, water savings and energy efficiency.
Chicago’s elected officials have been LEED-ing the national green scene. After noting with concern the fact that 70 percent of the city’s emissions stem from buildings, they decided to cut their emissions. Since 2004, all Chicago municipal buildings have been constructed to fulfill LEED standards. Moreover, projects wishing to obtain financial or zoning assistance from the Mayor Office must receive LEED certification or include green elements. By 2011, there were already 124 LEED-certified buildings in Chicago.
Moreover, in 2011, the newly-elected Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, launched a Retrofit Program to retrofit over 100 public buildings through upgrades in lighting, mechanical retrofits, and water conservation. Once completed, it is expected that this program would save tax payers between $4 million to $5.7 million annually. In June 2012, Mayor Emanuel extended this program to commercial buildings, with 14 buildings signings to join this initiative, which would save them more than $5 million a year. By 2020, the Mayor plans to make Chicago the most sustainable and energy saving city of the 21st century. Given his ambitious initiatives, this can surely become reality.
So, how can you contribute to increasing Chicago’s energy efficiency? If you are planning on constructing a building for your business, you should try to apply LEED standards and use LEED certified construction managers. On the long term, this will considerably reduce your energy costs and increase your productivity. You could request the Chicago government’s financial assistance in your green venture. If your business operates in an already existing building, you should firstly determine the extent to which it needs retrofitting. If requiring substantial retrofitting, you might consider signing up to the Chicago Retrofit Program. However, there are numerous measures which you could independently to ensure energy efficiency. For instance, applying electronic light controllers, which automatically turn off or dim lights when needed, is a great way to reduce your electricity bill. Moreover, installing insulation reduces heating bills. Green roofs, partially or entirely covered with vegetation, act as insulators, by cutting the energy needed for cooling and heating. Adopt these and/or other green measures and join Chicago’s authorities in LEED-ing the city to a greener, more sustainable future!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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