Buildings & Energy
Building energy use is a major contributor to GHG emissions. GHG emissions from this sector come from direct emissions such as fossil fuels burned on-site for heating or cooking needs—as well as indirect emissions such as fossil fuels burned off-site in order to supply the building with electricity. Building design plays a large role in determining the future efficiency and comfort of facilities. Increasing energy efficiency can help reduce GHG emissions and result in significant cost savings for both homes and businesses.
Buildings & Energy Strategies
Below are the specific Buildings & Energy goals outlined in the 2022 Environmental Sustainability Plan. Clicking on one of them will display the list of actions to be incorporated into the Village's workplans. They are broken down into completed, in-progress, and future and progress is updated quarterly.
- Improve total community-wide residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial building energy efficiency by 15% by 2030.
- Community Development shall review for adoption of the most recent International Energy Conservation Code as well as the International Green Building Code.
- Collaborate with ComEd, Nicor, and others to educate residents, businesses, and institutions on ways to lower energy costs.
- Through SEAC, ComEd, Nicor, and community partners like Go Green Skokie, create a residential energy efficiency challenge promoting and expanding residential and multi-family energy efficiency audit and upgrade program similar to ComEd's "Home Energy assessments." Collect communication materials to share with residents. Develop a plan to drive residents to action; identify other community groups that can build capacity for effective outreach; publicly recognize annual challenge "winners" with successful energy reduction achievements. Track annual progress; combine efforts with increased renewable energy purchases and installations. Goal: 220 households annually.
- Establish and implement an energy and water benchmarking and annual reporting program for commercial, institutional, industrial, and multi-family buildings by 2025. Support improved access to utility data for building owners and managers seeking to improve energy and water performance.
- Explore and implement a mechanism for expedited zoning and building code review process for projects meeting or exceeding the goals of this section to support and provide additional incentive for sustainable building projects.
- Encourage use of current sustainability and energy-efficiency certification programs (e.g. LEED Platinum, Passive House (PHIUS), Green Globes, Living Building Challenge, American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2030, and Enterprise Green Communities) and adopt an ordinance by 2025 to have commercial, institutional, industrial, and multi-family developers participate in a certification program.
- Promote and offer incentives for improving energy efficiency (e.g. Nicor Gas, ComEd, Cook County Property-Assessed Clean Energy financing program, insulation, energy-efficient windows, electric heat pumps) in substantially-renovated and newly-constructed properties. New construction incentives shall support measures for projects that exceed code requirements.
- Work with other public agencies including Park District and School districts to support energy efficiency programs, geothermal energy and solar energy installation. Goal: Achieving energy efficiency and renewable energy installation at public facilities equal to or greater than goals established in this plan by 2030.
- Increase adoption of high-performance building construction technology, achieving 0.5% Net Zero households, commercial, and institutional properties community-wide by 2030.
- Establish a Net Zero Energy Building Guide and Solar-Ready Checklist providing building owners, renters, developers, designers, and contractors with detailed information on strategies to make new construction or significant renovation projects Net Zero Energy or Net Zero Energy ready. Include a project strategy checklist for building owners and teams to use and report sustainable strategies used.
- Launch a platform and training program to share best practices, providing training, and promote the Village's Net Zero Energy Guide and Solar-Ready Checklist.
- Explore a policy requiring Village-assisted projects and projects receiving PUD, Special Use Permit, or other zoning action to to be built to meet or exceed an energy efficiency standard, like Sustainable Buildings 2030 (SB2030), LEED Gold, Enterprise Green Communities, the 24 National Green Building Standard ICC/ASHRAE 700, or an equivalent certification.
- Develop competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) for effective and innovative Net Zero pilot projects. Focus on "Net Zero building in every neighborhood" to establish visibility of strategies within the community. RFPs should encourage high- quality mixed-use redevelopment on infill properties and existing surface parking lots along transit-oriented development corridors. RFPs should focus on equity, affordability, livability, and compliance/support of Sustainability Plan goals. Goal: minimum of 1 successfully completed pilot project of at least 25 homes (single-family or multi-family).
- Achieve 5% residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional building "fuel switching" from on-site fossil fuel combustion to electrification by 2030.
In Progress Actions
- Coordinate and promote a residential and small business "Electrification and Energy Efficiency/Weatherization" group purchase campaign annually to help reduce the costs of energy efficient heating systems such as air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps through volume purchasing power (goal, 150 households and 20 businesses/institutions annually). Program design to focus on improved equity (residential and commercial) in its implementation and explore strategies to support local small business contractors. NOTE: Action may be implemented in combination with the renewable energy group purchase program action.
- Educate residents and businesses about the benefits of replacing fossil fuel-burning heating equipment and with air-source heat-pumps, geo-thermal systems, solar thermal, or other efficient electric heating options. Include promotion of rebates and tax credits available for electrification upgrades and appliances. Collaborate with ComEd and education partners like the library and Go Green Skokie.
- Explore, identify, and promote incentives for all-electric buildings.
- Increase on-site renewable energy from 0.12% to 2% of residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional electric use by 2030.
- Promote existing local residential, commercial, and institutional programs through Grow Solar Chicagoland and the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) that offer group purchasing to lower the cost of solar installations. Goal: 150 households and 1.1% of commercial/industrial sector electrical consumption "solarized" annually.
- Continue to promote existing North Shore Community Solar Program. Explore options to increase the purchase of renewable energy.
- Achieve Solsmart Gold Level Status requirements. Create a solar landing page with promotional and technical information on the Village website.
- Explore creation of a Solar Ready Ordinance to require all commercial, institutional, and multi-family buildings to be solar ready and to require on-site solar for all commercial properties receiving Village funding and incentives. See Village's Solar Ready Guidelines.
- Increase residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional green electricity purchasing (wind and solar source) community-wide to 15% by 2030.
- Continue Community Choice Electricity Aggregation (Aggregation). Explore expanding the reach of the Aggregation program and tighten sourcing requirements to encourage/require energy suppliers to directly invest in renewable energy. Goal: 200 additional households and 50 additional businesses and institutions signed on annually.
- Promote green power purchase options, when reasonably available, such as those provided by ComEd and Nicor. Collaborate with utilities on promotion and education of available options. Goal: 200 additional households and 50 additional businesses and institutions signed on annually.
- Increase resilience of community-wide building stock to the impacts of climate change (increased flood control and green infrastructure, etc).
- Conduct a Village Facilities Resilience Assessment and Implementation Plan outlining appropriate facility resilience upgrade projects and establishing a timeline for implementation. Resilience considerations to include flooding, flash flooding, and urban heat island mitigation among other considerations. Resilience assessment should include considerations for how municipal facilities can enhance or support resilience for surrounding community, particularly vulnerable populations (i.e. establishment of cooling center access, etc.).
- Streamline approval process of "green roofs" by Village Appearance Commission. Provide training or education of staff and commission members.
- Seek funding opportunities through FEMA "Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program for resilience upgrade projects as identified in the Village Facilities Resilience Assessment and Implementation Plan.
- Explore development of "Cool Roof," "Green Roof," “Green Wall”/“Live Wall” and “vertical garden” incentives (demonstration projects, voluntary programs, incentivized program, ordinance/policy) to meet long-range dark impervious surface reduction goals. Coordinate with existing compatible municipal policies such as the Stormwater Management Utility fee structure. Examples of incentive programs have been developed by the Climate Protection Partnership Division in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Atmospheric Programs.
- Conduct a Village Facilities Energy Audit on all buildings within the next 3 years targeting energy efficiency meeting or exceeding goals of this plan. Use results from Village Facilities Energy Audit to prioritize Village Facilities Capital Improvement Plans (CIPS) and maintenance improvements. Plan to establish a timeline for implementation all improvements within 5 years of completion of energy audits.
- Establish a Green Building policy that requires all new municipal buildings to meet and maintain energy, resource efficiency, and on-site fossil fuel combustion reduction and elimination goals or building standards (ENERGY STAR, LEED, Home Energy Score or other). Policy to require energy consumption to be benchmarked and disclosed annually. Encourage houses of worship, schools, park district, and other public and private agencies to establish similar policies.
- Explore use of the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (or another option such as a tax-exempt bond or performance contracting) to finance all possible municipal solar projects and renewable energy purchases through the utility.
- Conduct an occupancy and plug load energy efficiency study of primary Village owned facilities and establish a "Plug Load and Occupancy Energy Efficiency Guide" outlining operational practices to advance the Village's energy efficiency goals for Village facilities. Provide training to all existing Village employees and provide on-going training to all new Village hires.
- Achieve 15% municipal building thermal “fuel switching" from on-site fossil fuel combustion to electrification by 2030.
- Establish a policy requiring all new municipally-owned buildings to be 100% electric (or zero on-site fossil fuel combustion) by 2025.
- Conduct an "Electrification Assessment and Action Plan" to outline actions and priorities for electrification of Village facilities to move towards zero on-site fossil fuel combustion. Work with regional energy partnerships to implement Plan for all Village facilities and establish a schedule for improvements (such as hot water and space heating appliance replacement). Include new and existing buildings, explore strategies to address electricity storage, and create a case study to highlight and share challenges, solutions, and lessons learned to share with the broader community.
- Conduct a Village Facility Solar Feasibility and Master Plan study to explore the feasibility of on-site solar for all Village facilities. Study should explore a range of ownership options including purchase and third-party ownership (such as Power Purchase Agreements) and should include exploration of micro-grid and solar+storage options for improved facility resilience. Study should also identify strategies such as community solar subscriptions combined with Renewable Energy Credit purchases, to achieve renewable energy for considerations at sites determined to be inappropriate for on-site solar to achieve 100% renewable energy.
- Install solar on all Village buildings and sites, where feasible based on the findings and recommendations of the Village Facility Solar Feasibility and Master Plan study by 2027. Explore implementation of micro-grid, solar+storage and other options for improved facility resilience. Explore including Village facility solar purchases in community-wide commercial/institutional solar group purchase campaigns.