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Energy Impact Illinois: An alliance for better buildings

Energy Impact Illinois is an alliance of CMAP, utility companies, government agencies, and citizen advocacy groups. Together, they are working to create a long-term market for improving the energy efficiency of residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. Visit energyimpactillinois.org for a wealth of resources to help residents, businesses, and contractors save energy and money.

The effort is made possible througha $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to create a regional marketplace for improving the energy efficiency of buildings within the seven-county CMAP region, including Rockford. Awarded to CMAP inpartnership with the City of Chicago, City of Rockford, and other regional stakeholders, the grant is one of 25 that were announced on April 21, 2010, through the U.S. DOE Better Buildings Neighborhood Program. The primary goal is to build a comprehensive, sustainable energy efficiency retrofit program that aggressively targets commercial, industrial, and residential buildings. Over the initial three-year effort, Energy Impact Illinois looks to:

  • Leverage the federal investment with over $125 million in private investments.
  • Create more than 2,000 jobs (e.g., construction contractors, installers, energy auditors).
  • Retrofit more than 8,000 units, with at least 15-percent energy savings per retrofit.

Energy efficiency retrofits of residential, commercial, and industrial buildings can include installation of high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, installation and lighting, weatherization activities, and window or door replacement.

Toward Regional Energy Efficiency

The GO TO 2040 Regional Vision states that the region should be a leader in green building techniques, the production of green energy, and in providing energy-efficient transportation options. During the "Invent the Future" phase of public engagement for GO TO 2040, participants identified energy reduction as one of the four most important indicators to track progress toward achieving the Regional Vision, along with regional economy, transportation choice, and land consumption. Energy efficiency is also part of many other strategies in GO TO 2040, ranging from the mixed-use reinvestment that is part of promoting livable communities to the provision of a balanced supply of housing and jobs.

While energy efficiency measures generally entail an upfront cost, the stream of avoided costs continues long after the initial investment is repaid. Furthermore, many state and federal programs are available to assist with the initial costs to help encourage energy efficiency by local governments, residents, and businesses. Based on 2005 prices, the region's average household could save $550 per year in natural gas and electricity following a retrofit, while savings for a typical commercial account would be $6,400. A particular energy efficiency measure may not make sense in every case, but in general pays dividends to the user, thus making a clear financial motive for energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency also has a broad economic payoff by directly and indirectly creating "green jobs" while also having a multiplier effect on jobs elsewhere in the economy. In fact, most of the green jobs expected to emerge in the seven-county region over the next decade are linked to energy use and efficiency. While estimates of direct job creation vary, it is projected that for every $1 million invested in energy efficiency, approximately eight to ten full-time jobs are created, primarily in the skilled trades needed to conduct energy audits and install energy efficiency measures.

To learn more about how you can get involved, please visit our user-friendly information system at www.energyimpactillinois.org.

Program Contacts:
Daniel Olson, Senior Energy Efficiency Planner
312-386-8760
dolson@cmap.illinois.gov

The Energy Impact Illinois website also offers a Ways to Save widget as a Find Energy-Saving Actions tool, helping users identify ways they can improve their buildings to reduce energy use and bills, including information on available incentives, rebates, and financing.

Simply choose the audience your site focuses on and select "Create Widget" to display the code that needs to be integrated into your website to display the widget.

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