Press Release, 4-21-10

Press Contact:  Tom Garritano (312-386-8609 or

Chicago, Rockford, and suburbs to benefit from $25 million federal stimulus grant for energy-efficient retrofits of commercial and residential buildings

Award to Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and partners will build a marketplace with incentives for private investment and government coordination

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, April 21, 2010 -- Businesses and residents of northeastern Illinois -- including Chicago, Rockford, and suburbs -- will benefit from federal stimulus incentives to create a regional marketplace for improving energy efficiency of buildings.  The $25 million award was announced today by Vice President Joe Biden as one of 25 projects funded nationally by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) "Retrofit Ramp-up" initiative.

Building retrofits can include installation of more-efficient heating and cooling systems, insulation and lighting, weather sealing, and windows or doors.  One goal of the project is to provide every homeowner and business owner in the region with information to make decisions about how to improve their buildings' energy performance.

The regional collaboration is led by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and the City of Chicago, with support from the City of Rockford and other stakeholders. The three-year award will help the emerging retrofit market make the transition to a fully developed commercial sector by creating efficiencies on a broad regional scale.

"For the hundreds of municipalities in metropolitan Chicago and beyond to Rockford, this will jump-start efforts to save money and energy," said Randy Blankenhorn, CMAP executive director.  "The inter-governmental cooperation is extremely significant, as is the potential for long-term economic benefits.  With these more-recent stimulus awards, the federal government is demonstrating the importance of regional collaboration to create jobs and address major challenges like energy consumption."

Called the Chicago Region Retrofit Ramp-Up (CR3), the project will: 

  • Leverage the $25 million federal investment with over $125 million in local investments.
  • Create more than 2,000 jobs (e.g., construction contractors, installers, energy auditors).
  • Retrofit more more than 8,000 units throughout the region.
  • Enable average energy savings of 30 percent per retrofit building.


At present, contractors interested in retrofit work have difficulty finding customers that are eligible for subsidies and government or private programs that have available funds.  Because financing options are currently limited, the grant will develop and initially fund financial mechanisms -- for example, revolving loan funds -- that can eventually be sustained by market forces within the region.

CR3 leverages the extensive strategy implementation work flowing from the Chicago Climate Action Plan, which was introduced in 2008.  The project will help match suppliers and contractors with consumers to facilitate retrofits on a broad regional scale. The current rate of market penetration remains small, project organizers say, with less than 1 percent of eligible buildings having been retrofit.  By providing mechanisms for financing and information sharing, CR3 partners can accelerate the pace of retrofits, while creating jobs and helping businesses, residents, units of government, and other stakeholders to save costs.

The result will be a sustainable system in which suppliers can quickly respond to consumer demand for retrofits with consistent, efficient, and affordable solutions.  The project covers 4,000 square miles in nine counties (the CMAP region of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will, plus Rockford's Boone and Winnebago counties), which have more than 8 million residents.

"The City of Chicago is excited about the grant, which recognizes the hard work of our partnership of government, utilities, businesses and non-governmental organizations to make all of our resources go further," said Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Environment. "By leveraging public and private funds with creative solutions to financing, communications, and service delivery, we will achieve much more and transform the market, while creating jobs and improving the quality of lives in our communities."

The project will increase access to capital by developing new financing mechanisms and funding pilot programs.  A portion of the grant will fund a broad-based marketing campaign to educate consumers. 

Contributing to a trained workforce is also a priority.  CR3 will create certification standards for retrofit contractors, while working with educators to promote consistent training curricula.  The effort will also enable CMAP to hire a workforce intermediary to connect trained workers with contractors.

"This historic collaboration will help us achieve long-term, sustainable results," said City of Rockford Mayor Lawrence J. Morrissey. "Energy efficiency retrofits mean jobs and savings for our citizens and businesses.  We are thankful for the federal investment and our regional partnership with Chicago. This is a great model for our future."

The award is one of just 25 nationally for up to $452 million in DOE Retrofit Ramp-up funds through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA, known as the federal stimulus).  DOE estimates that the stimulus will leverage an estimated $2.8 billion from other sources over the next three years to retrofit hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the country. DOE received requests for over $3.5 billion -- eight times more than the available funds -- indicating significant nationwide demand for investment in energy-saving and job-creating projects like these.

Because few residential and commercial property owners understand the potential for significant savings through energy efficiency -- even as many struggle to avoid foreclosure -- retrofit and utility assistance providers have trouble penetrating the market.  CR3 will develop a comprehensive information system to educate property owners and to facilitate connections between suppliers and consumers.

CMAP is in the final months of developing the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan, whose implementation will begin in October 2010.  Conservation of energy and other resources will be a high priority among CMAP's recommendations to guide growth and infrastructure investments through mid-century and beyond.




About CMAP.  The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is the comprehensive regional planning organization for the northeastern Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. By state and federal law, CMAP is responsible for producing the region's official, integrated plan for land use and transportation. The agency's innovative GO TO 2040 planning campaign will develop and implement strategies to shape the region's transportation system and development patterns, while also addressing the natural environment, economic development, housing, education, human services, and other factors shaping quality of life. See< for more information.