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Accenture developed a detailed database and advanced analytical tools that would help the City of Chicago realize its ambitious strategy to retrofit its large stock of existing buildings with energy-saving technologies.
As a result, the city has been able to identify areas that offer the best return on investment, with potential annual energy savings of more than $100 million.
Located on Lake Michigan with a population of 2.7 million, Chicago is known for its livability and environmental responsibility. In addition to the focus on energy-efficient buildings in the Chicago Climate Action Plan, newly elected Mayor Rahm Emanuel reinforced the importance of retrofitting buildings to reduce energy costs and create jobs in his 2011 Transition Plan.
The scale of the challenge for Chicago is significant: more than 450,000 buildings (with an average age of 75 years for residential buildings), and over $3 billion of annual energy costs. Although retrofits of existing buildings can help provide significant energy and cost savings, many barriers exist. These barriers include lack of awareness of the appropriate energy-efficiency measures for a particular building, lack of available financing, and misaligned incentives between building owners and occupants.
Chicago and its new Chief Sustainability Officer recognized that a fresh approach was necessary to accelerate the pace of retrofit activity. Needing strong analytical capabilities and insights into sustainability solutions, Chicago turned to Accenture for help.
Accenture created a detailed database and advanced analytical tools to help guide Chicago’s energy-efficiency efforts. By combining actual electricity and natural gas usage with building characteristics and demographics, Accenture was able to deliver a precise analysis of opportunities for energy-efficiency actions and a full picture of energy consumption. This analysis involved comparing the actual intensity of energy use in buildings with achievable energy performance to identify energy savings potential. Using the existing City of Chicago geographical information system, Accenture created a visualization platform for quickly identifying the areas of the city with the highest payback potential from retrofits.
Accenture delivered one of the most comprehensive and detailed databases of energy use in buildings ever assembled by a US city. The Accenture team identified a set of opportunity areas which could provide the best return on investment for Chicago, and potential annual energy savings of more than $100 million.
Chicago now has tools for targeting neighborhoods or sectors with specific retrofit programs and tools for tracking the achieved energy savings. These tools are now being used by the City of Chicago staff and the Chicago Innovation Delivery Team. With Accenture’s help, the city should be able to increase the pace of energy-efficiency retrofits, thus helping achieve energy and cost savings and reduce greenhouse gases in the region.
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