Green Buildings

Green buildings are businesses, residential spaces, or community spaces that incorporate sustainable practices in their design and operation. Green buildings incorporate the Triple Bottom Line, addressing environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainability. With ⅓ of emissions contributing to climate change coming from buildings, green buildings are a vital step in creating a community that supports a clean environment!





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Sustainability Regulations for Chicago Buildings


The Sustainable Development Division of Chicago, Chicago Energy Conservation Code, and Chicago Benchmarking Ordinance attempt to improve the city's energy efficiency, and these also seek to balance mandatory sustainability goals, project budgets, and delivery timelines of existing and new buildings.


Chicago Sustainable Development Policy


The city of Chicago has initiated a Sustainable Development Division (SDD) to address sustainability concerns for development projects. In June 2004, The City of Chicago implemented Chicago Sustainable Development Policy and updated this policy in 2016. This policy applies to all building and housing projects in Chicago. The policy requires projects that are receiving financial assistance or special approvals from the City to include sustainable elements, such as health, energy, stormwater, landscapes, green roofs, water, transportation, solid waste, workforce, and wildlife. The new policy allows developers to choose from a menu of strategies that fit best the project's characteristics.

  • Projects that are subject to the policy, and other details of the policy can be found on this city website.


Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance


Web link to the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Homepage

Web link for directory of buildings covered by Chicago Benchmarking Ordinance

Web link for the Chicago Benchmarking Data Portal

Web link for ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager


  • Since 2013, the Chicago Benchmarking Ordinance has required existing commercial, institutional, and residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet (4645 square meters) to track and report their whole-building energy usage.

  • This regulation covers less than 1% of Chicago’s buildings by count, but accounts for 20% of total building energy usage in the city.

  • The ordinance’s three requirements for covered buildings

  1. Record building properties (size, age, conditioning type, program), monthly energy use via the free ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Web Tool

  2. Have energy utility data verified by a third-party professional with an architecture license, engineering license, or other city-approved accreditation

  3. Report energy use to the City of Chicago once every three years via the free ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Web Tool


Chicago Energy Conservation Code


Web link to Chicago Energy Conservation Code


  • “Chicago Among First Jurisdictions in Illinois to Implement Latest Version of International Energy Conservation Code” The Code has been in effect since June 1, 2019.

  • The code applies for new commercial and residential constructions, and also for major changes in existing buildings - renovations, alterations, additions and reparations. This requirement helps protect the environment and reduce energy consumption by providing guidelines for reducing air pollution, moderating energy demand and stabilizing energy costs and electric, oil, and gas supplies.

  • The next update to the Chicago Energy Conservation Code in 2022 will apply the as-yet-unpublished 2021 IECC – an official international code that recognizes the need for a modern, up-to-date energy conservation code – as its basis.

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