Amanda Komar

Chicago is one of seven cities in the world to receive the highest level of certification available from the U.S. Green Building Council

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced Chicago has achieved LEED for Cities Platinum certification, the highest level of certification available from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Chicago is one of the first cities in the world to be certified using LEED, the world’s most widely used green building rating system that focuses on human and environmental health. The LEED for Cities program was launched in 2016 and enables cities to benchmark and communicate performance from ongoing sustainability initiatives.

“Chicago continues to show world-class leadership when it comes to reducing harmful carbon pollution while also strengthening and improving neighborhoods across the city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “This award is evidence that our efforts are making an impact. We will keep accelerating initiatives that improve our quality of life and conserve resources, all while supporting clean, 21st-century jobs.”

Chicago’s LEED for Cities Platinum certification is an important recognition of Mayor Emanuel’s strong environmental track record. In August 2018, Chicago was ranked as the nation's greenest city by the Green Building Adoption Index for the second year in a row, with 70 percent of its space green certified. The City’s Energy Benchmarking Ordinance, which requires large buildings across Chicago to measure and report energy use, is associated with ongoing improvements in energy performance, as well as collective savings of more than $39 million over three years. Next year, the city will implement the Chicago Energy Rating System, the first of its kind in the U.S., which will which assign a zero to four-star energy rating to all large properties that are subject to the benchmarking reporting requirements. The Chicago Energy Rating System leverages the success of Retrofit Chicago, the city’s voluntary energy efficiency challenge program, which includes over 80 participating properties spanning over 55 million square feet.

“Chicago has not only committed to bold environmental and sustainability goals, but is now delivering on those commitments, leading to real impact across the city,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO at USGBC and GBCI. “Mayor Emanuel and the city are proving that improving sustainability and increasing economic growth go hand-in-hand.”

Mayor Emanuel is also the Honorary Committee Chair of the Greenbuild Host Committee, a group of Chicago area leaders associated with the Illinois Green Alliance and USGBC who are lending their name to welcome an international audience later this year at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago.

“We are thrilled that Greenbuild will take place later this year in Chicago — now one of the first LEED Platinum cities in the world,” said Brian Imus, Executive Director of the Illinois Green Alliance. “The LEED for Cities recognition is a testament to Chicago’s leadership and ongoing success in moving the needle on climate change.”

In 2017, Mayor Emanuel committed the city to using 100 percent renewable energy in all municipal facilities. The Mayor also signed an Executive Order committing the City to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Chicago is 40 percent of the way to meeting the Paris Agreement target. In December 2017, the City of Chicago hosted the North American Climate Summit and 2017 C40 Cities Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards in partnership with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, and C40 Cities Leadership Group. The Summit brought together over 50 municipal leaders from across the United States, Canada and Mexico to articulate commitments to the Paris Agreement.

The initial Chicago Climate Charter was signed in early December at the North American Climate Summit, where leaders met to articulate commitments to the Paris Agreement and highlight the scope and scale of city climate action.

Most recently, Tokyo, Japan; Hamburg, Germany; Zurich, Switzerland; and Rotterdam, Netherlands, have signed the Chicago Climate Charter. With the addition of these four cities, a total of 72 cities signed the Charter, representing tens of millions of people in cities across the world.

By signing the Chicago Climate Charter, cities pledge to:

  • Achieve a percent reduction in carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement;
  • Quantify, track and publicly report city emissions, consistent with standards and best practices of measurement and transparency;
  • Advocate alongside other mayors for greater local authority and flexibility to develop policies and local laws that empower cities to take aggressive action on climate;
  • Recognize and include groups traditionally underrepresented in climate policy;
  • Incorporate the realities of climate change and its impacts into local infrastructure and emergency planning through strategies of adaptation and resilience;
  • Support strong regional, state and federal policies and partnerships, as well as private sector initiatives, that incentivize the transition to a new climate economy; and
  • Partner with experts, communities, businesses, environmental justice groups, advocates and other allies to develop holistic climate mitigation and resilience solutions.