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Being a Part of the Bigger Solution: Highlights of BOMA/Chicago’s Energy and Sustainability Committee

By Rachael Bruketta, Vice Chair of BOMA/Chicago Energy and Sustainability Committee

BOMA/Chicago’s Energy and Sustainability Committee works to make member commercial buildings more energy efficient through ongoing educational programming and providing a basis for BOMA/Chicago’s energy advocacy efforts. Under the leadership of the newly appointed committee chair Eric Duchon with LaSalle Investment Management and vice chair Rachael Bruketta with Sterling Bay, the committee has continued to recruit members from diverse fields and backgrounds, including service providers and property managers, leading to a more expansive set of perspectives and insights.

Over the last two years, the committee has improved its educational offerings, making them more accessible to BOMA/Chicago members to actively learn about what’s happening in the industry from an environmental point of view. Topics covered have included available incentives for utility upgrades, reasons for fluctuating utility pricing, and how grid modifications are affecting consumers.

For example, last year, the committee put together a handful of case studies for our members about energy-efficient upgrades with step-by-step details on how they were achieved. Each case study creates an example for others about what is possible for a property to reduce its overall environmental impact.

Additionally, the committee has started to hold open meetings to provide information and resources to non-committee members, while adding more energy related events to BOMA/Chicago’s educational and networking calendar. The committee has hosted open meetings about ComEd and Peoples Gas energy incentivesEnergy Star Certification changes happening in August 2018, and Chicago’s Energy Rating System, which will be rolled out by the city in 2019.

Last summer, the Energy and Sustainability Committee conducted a panel on Monitoring Based Commission (MBCx) and over the past year has hosted two BOMA Energy Efficiency Program (BEEP) full-day seminars with six courses focused on developing energy efficiency programs at buildings. Each seminar included input from committee members who are experts in their field, as well as guest speakers to provide information to attendees to achieve great efficiency. Next week, join the Committee for a panel on Health & Wellness – a trending topic in real estate.

Not only does the committee help BOMA/Chicago members stay informed with the latest news and resources, members also help advocate for green initiatives with an understanding that reliable energy at a lower cost is critical for a robust and competitive business climate in the City of Chicago. One of the current advocacy initiatives includes participating in working group discussions for the Next Grid initiative, which is being led by the Illinois Commerce Commission and has the potential to shape the state’s energy policy for decades. With commercial office buildings using up to a quarter of their operating budgets on utilities, maintaining a strong voice on energy policy is imperative.

The dedication of the Energy and Sustainability Committee to awareness, education and advocacy is what makes the commercial office building industry thrive, and has an impact on the entire city as Chicago leads the nation in sustainability efforts. Through teaching classes on energy-efficient practices, sponsoring events on sustainability, and advocating for lower utility costs and a competitive energy market, the committee keeps the conversation going and searches for solutions to the challenges every building is facing. After all, we’re all in this together.