CHICAGO  – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel at an event in Chicago today to announce that the city is joining the Obama Administration’s Better Buildings Challenge, part of the initiative launched last year by President Obama to catalyze investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades and support new jobs across the country.  As a partner in this national initiative, Chicago is committing to reduce energy use by 20 percent across nearly 24 million square feet of public and private building space within the next five years. The Better Buildings Challenge supports the Obama Administration's  blueprint for an economy built to last, reducing energy costs in buildings – which last year consumed more than 40 percent of all the energy used by the U.S. economy – while boosting American competitiveness in the global clean energy race.

“Investments in energy efficiency are making the American economy more competitive by creating jobs, growing industries, reducing energy bills for families and businesses, and protecting our air and water,” said Secretary Chu. “By joining the Better Buildings Challenge, Chicago is not only leading by example, but is also better positioning the city in the global economy by saving millions in energy costs.”

At the event in Chicago, Secretary Chu and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made the announcement and highlighted the building owners in downtown Chicago that are stepping up to meet the Better Buildings Challenge.  Chicago plans to upgrade 10 million square feet of City-owned buildings and nearly 14 million square feet of privately owned buildings that have partnered with the City.  The City of Chicago and its partners will share their most successful energy-saving strategies and solutions so that others can follow.

The energy to operate the buildings in which we work, shop, and study costs the U.S. approximately $200 billion annually. By taking steps to be energy-efficient, buildings and manufacturing plants nationwide can reduce their energy use by more than 20 percent. The goal of the Obama Administration’s Better Buildings Challenge is to encourage building upgrades that will make America’s buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade, reducing energy costs for American businesses and local governments by more than $40 billion. 

The Better Buildings Challenge is a national leadership initiative launched by President Obama in December 2011 that calls on chief executive officers, university presidents, and state and local leaders to reduce their portfolio-wide energy use by 20 percent by 2020 and to share the results of their energy reduction strategies. To date, the more than 60 organizations partnering with the Energy Department for the Better Buildings Challenge have committed to improve the energy efficiency of more than 1.6 billion square feet of building space, in addition to reducing energy waste across more than 300 manufacturing facilities and committing nearly $2 billion in energy efficiency financing.  For more information please visit the BetterBuildings Challenge website.