Today Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed an executive order committing the city to the Paris Agreement sustainability guidelines. This builds upon Chicago’s bold pledge to transition to 100 percent renewable energy in city buildings by 2025, marking a major leap forward from the largest city to set such an ambitious goal.
“It’s a significant statement for a city like Chicago to commit to power all city properties with renewable energy,” says Christian Beaudoin, JLL’s Director of Research in the U.S. “Municipalities are moving in this direction and, at some point in the not-too-distant future, this will be standard for cities across the country.”
How will we pull it off? Wind and solar energy, in addition to continued closure of coal-fired power plants, increased recycling and reduced disposable bag use. And the results speak for themselves—Chicago reduced carbon emissions by 7 percent from 2010 to 2015, despite a population increase.
This week Chicago is hosting 16 mayors from around the world for the 2017 Chicago Forum on Global Cities, and tomorrow leaders from the public, private and academic sectors will convene to share ideas and discuss tactics cities can employ to combat global warming.
This type of collaboration has proven to be critical. Last month, a group of U.S. mayors announced a Mayors for 100 Clean Energy initiative encouraging the shift to sustainable energy sources in urban environments. It aligns with the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, which aims to achieve 100 percent renewable energy nationally by 2050.
“With RE100, companies are encouraged to set a public goal to procure 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by a specific year,” says Keara Fanning, JLL’s Midwest Sustainability Practice Lead. “These latest commitments by municipalities will continue to stimulate growth in renewable energy through the purchase of renewable energy credits as well as increased on-site solar and wind generation.”
The bottom line
While making pledges is a positive step, cities and states need to uphold these commitments, which in turn would result in an increase of renewable energy sources in the energy grid and lower costs. “It still has to make economic sense,” Fanning says.
But with the RE100, the transformation of the U.S., and therefore the global, energy market to renewable sources will likely accelerate. The private sector accounts for approximately half the world’s electricity consumption. For a growing number of multi-national companies with multi-billion dollar revenues, committing to 100 percent renewable energy is becoming the norm.
“Renewable energy will continue to be a key area of focus for companies interested in contributing to a low-carbon, sustainable future,” says Fanning. “We anticipate more companies and more municipalities making these types of commitments moving forward.”
JLL’s PDS Energy & Sustainability:
Leveraging the power of our global Energy and Sustainability platform, JLL’s Sustainability Project Management team leads the industry in ensuring our clients’ projects use less energy, waste and water while reducing their real estate costs and improving efficiency. Our services integrate energy and sustainability performance optimization into the design, construction and operation of our clients’ real estate projects. Whatever your goal – a high performance space, employee engagement, deep energy retrofit, carbon reporting, capital planning, asset value, competitive benchmarking certification – we will guide you through every step of the process.