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Wrigley Building Helps Chew Up Chicago's Carbon Footprint

By JoshMogerman in News on Jun 9, 2012 8:00PM

Wrigley Building [Ajit Chouhan]

It is a bit ironic that one of the best ways to avoid the worst impacts of climate change’s impending weather wrath is to address the systems we use to avoid the weather. Stop future heat waves by tweaking air conditioning systems may sound counter intuitive, but when you consider that energy used by buildings in the U.S. account for about 40% of our carbon pollution, it makes perfect sense.

The City has been on top of this issue for some time now, with announcements about significant energy efficiency efforts afoot in public buildings and Soldier Field. The other shoe dropped this week when Mayor Emanuel was joined by Nobel laureate and Energy Secretary Steven Chu to roll out a pilot plan to help retrofit large commercial buildings. The initiative initially focuses on 14 prominent downtown buildings, including the Wrigley Building and NBC Tower, which will lower their energy consumption by at least 20% over the next five years—all without any public money being spent. It is hoped that this effort will goose the Chicago Climate Action Plan goal of lowering commercial building energy use to cut Chicago’s greenhouse gas by 1.3 million metric tons by 2020, a plan former City of Chicago Commissioner of the Environment and current NRDC Midwest director Henry Henderson described as “fighting climate change, one gorgeous building at a time.”