September 16, 2022 - By Better Buildings, U.S. Department of Energy
Chicago Public Schools: Smart Energy Conservation Measures
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is one of the largest school districts in the nation, serving over 330,000 students in more than 600 schools. With a building portfolio covering more than 64 million square feet across 1,000 structures, CPS is dedicated to reducing its energy consumption and environmental impact.
CPS committed to the Better Buildings Challenge in early 2022 in conjunction with the publication of its first Climate Action Plan (CAP), which outlines a strategy to be carbon neutral by 2050 and use 100% renewable electricity by 2025, in addition to implementing other environmental protection measures. A large component of this plan are twin goals for energy: reduce electricity use by 30% and reduce natural gas use by 20% by 2025. The CAP outlines a plan to Conserve, Protect, and Sustain environmental resources and support the communities CPS serves. The CAP serves as a foundational climate action document for CPS to build upon as the district moves towards carbon neutrality by 2050.
The commitment to the Better Buildings Challenge reinforces existing efforts to improve facilities to ensure safe and comfortable environments for teachers, students, and staff. CPS addresses these responsibilities through smart energy conservation measures including HVAC upgrades, lighting retrofits, BAS optimization, real-time metering, and promoting a culture of energy conservation within CPS.
To achieve these goals CPS has outlined a path forward through both increasing energy efficiency and energy sourced from renewables to decrease emissions. CPS uses funding from local energy utilities to install energy-saving equipment and technologies. New buildings will be commissioned only if adequately energy efficient, and older buildings will be inspected and retrofitted to improve their efficiency.
With a focus on transparency, CPS Energy and Sustainability staff will work with community stakeholders and vendors to analyze energy consumption, identify opportunities to improve efficiency, and work to implement cutting-edge technology in schools.
Chicago Public Schools looks forward to taking advantage of the resources and ambitious examples provided to them by the Better Buildings Challenge and hopes to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions on a large scale over the next several years and beyond.
This column originally appeared as a blog on the Better Buildings website.
Through DOE's Better Buildings Initiative, more than 900 commercial, public, industrial, and residential organizations share their proven energy efficiency strategies and inspire others to tap into the continued potential for energy efficiency. Collectively these organizations have saved 2.5 quadrillion Btus of energy, equivalent to $15.3 billion, and 155 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Partners have reduced their water use by 13.7 billion gallons. Together, partners represent more than 35 of the country's Fortune 100 companies, 10 of the top 25 U.S. employers, 14% of the U.S. manufacturing energy footprint, and 13% of total commercial building space, as well as more than 100 state and local governments spanning the nation.