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Chicago Communities to Adopt Ordinances Requiring Energy Efficient Homes, Buildings

Under an initiative developed by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (MMC), more than 1.7 million northern Illinois residents live in communities requiring all new construction and rehabbed buildings to meet a minimum level of energy efficiency. As concerns about fuel and energy cost grows, more than 5.4 million others live in communities across Illinois that are considering adoption of similar local ordinances.

The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) sets energy efficiency standards for new residential and commercial buildings and additions to existing buildings. Two years ago, the MMC developed a program to help municipalities adopt and implement the IECC. The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation has granted the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus $210,000 for its energy code program.

"Our commitment to improving Chicago area communities was the impetus for the municipal energy code program, which we developed with the assistance of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation," said Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett, Chairman of the MMC Executive Board. "With the requirements in place, the average homeowner will save $250 per year on utility costs."

The new requirements cover a building's ceilings, walls, and floors/foundations; and the heating/cooling and other mechanical systems. For commercial buildings, there are also requirements for lighting and power systems. According to a U.S. Department of Energy study, construction costs for an average home to become IECC compliant are about $1,500 and are recouped in five to seven years. The benefits for local residents beyond a cleaner environment and lower utility costs include tax and insurance deductions, reduced asthma-inducing factors like dust mites and mold, and a lower likelihood of building-related moisture problems.

"The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation supports clean and renewable energy development throughout Illinois, and this initiative implemented by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, is a model program that the Foundation is pleased to sponsor," said James Mann, Executive Director of the Foundation. "The Caucus should be applauded for their proactive approach to energy conservation."

The on-going financial commitment of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation enables the MMC to continue its energy code training seminar and support program called CITIES (Community Initiative To Increase Energy Savings). CITIES helps municipalities adopt a local energy conservation ordinance, giving participants the necessary training, legal guidance and implementation assistance to become IECC compliant. Forty-nine communities participated in the CITIES seminars last spring and additional seminars are planned for the fall of this year.

According to a study by the Alliance to Save Energy, Illinois has more than 51,000 housing starts per year and ranks 1st in the county for potential dollars saved by making energy efficiency improvements.

A statewide commercial energy code bill, the Energy Efficient Building Act (HB 4099), is currently pending approval by Governor Blagojevich and would mandate an energy efficiency code on all commercial buildings in Illinois. By taking advantage of the MMC energy code program, Chicago area communities are ahead of this effort by adopting their own codes which cover residential and commercial buildings.

"Energy codes are good public policy," said Bartlett Village President Catherine Melchert. "Compliance takes only a few steps in the building or renovation process, and the energy and dollar savings are quite significant. The MMC's CITIES initiative helps communities adopt the version of the IECC that best fits the needs of local residents."

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