Expert Voices: Karen Weigert - Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Chicago

Today, our partner, National Geographic City Solutions blog featured an “Expert Voices” piece by Karen Weigert, the City of Chicago’s Chief Sustainability Officer. Weigert provides an update on exciting news from Retrofit Chicago’s Commercial Buildings Initiative, a voluntary program to accelerate energy efficiency in large commercial spaces across the city. 

On June 5, during a press conference with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu, fourteen Chicago buildings became founding participants in Retrofit Chicago’s Commercial Buildings Initiative. 

“The city’s efforts to accelerate energy efficiency are part of a $7 billion USD, 3-year public infrastructure revitalization – “Building a New Chicago” – that is helping to make Chicago one of the most competitive, livable, and sustainable cities of the 21st century. Building a New Chicago will touch many aspects of the city’s infrastructure, including transportation, water, schools, airports, and buildings, creating more than 30,000 jobs over the next three years,” said Weigert.

Initiative Highlights 

  • The Commercial Buildings Initiative’s initial participants span 14 million square feet of commercial office and hospitality space.
  • The buildings’ ages range from 7 to 117 years old.
  • The buildings represent a diverse range of architectural styles, including art deco, gothic, French renaissance, and our own Chicago School. • Initiative participants are greening Chicago’s built environment by working to reduce energy usage by at least 20% in the next five years, sharing progress and efficiency successes with the public, and serving as ambassadors to other buildings that are interested in increasing their energy efficiency. 

To read Karen’s piece on Retrofit Chicago’s Commercial Buildings Initiative, please click here.