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Sustainability Initiatives

BOMA/Chicago is committed to sustainability and continues to partner with the city to advance cost-effective initiatives that reduce energy use and protect the environment.

Energy Benchmarking and Rating System

The City of Chicago adopted an Energy Benchmarking ordinance in 2013 that required building owners or managers of properties 50,000 square feet or greater to report whole-building energy use once a year. In 2017, that ordinance was amended to create the Chicago Energy Rating System for large buildings. The new system is a zero to four star scale rating based on existing and publicly available energy data, alongside recent energy improvements to buildings. Each building over 50,000 square feet will be required to post their rating in a prominent location on the property, and share this information at the time of sale or lease listing. Chicago is the first US city to assign buildings an energy performance rating and require properties to post their rating.

BOMA/Chicago took part in discussions with the city to help formulate the benchmarking requirements and is currently participating in a task force that will finalize details and procedures for the new rating system.

Learn more about the Chicago Energy Rating System.

The Water and Waste (W2) Challenge

BOMA/Chicago has partnered with BOMA International to promote the Water and Waste (W2) Challenge to expand the sustainability efforts of the commercial real estate industry. This program is a two-year initiative that supports commercial real estate practitioners in benchmarking water and waste consumption and associated costs, and implementing best practices to improve performance. The program runs from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019, and participants will be eligible for recognition for their leadership from BOMA International. Year 1 will establish a baseline and Year 2 will promote performance improvements.

Learn more about the Water and Waste (W2) Challenge.

Lighting Initiatives for Conservation and Carbon Reduction

To reduce carbon emissions and darken the night sky, BOMA/Chicago assisted the City of Chicago in the development and implementation of Lights Out Chicago, voluntary exterior lighting guidelines for all exterior decorative lighting, and non-emergency or non-safety exterior lighting and signage. The vast majority of BOMA/Chicago buildings adhere to these guidelines. Other BOMA/Chicago initiatives have sought to streamline regulations that would make it easier for buildings to be proactive in the use of adaptive technology like occupancy sensors to eliminate unnecessary, non-emergency stairwell lighting in downtown office buildings.

Learn more about Lights Out Chicago.

Living Standard Campaign

Living Standard is a newly launched campaign by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This campaign collects and shares stories to prove that we all have the power to make a measurable impact on the quality of life.

Learn more about Living Standard.


In 2008, when the City of Chicago’s Department of Environment proposed an exclusive waste hauling franchise, which would have preempted commercial office buildings’ ability to negotiate and select individual waste haulers, the City did so with the stated goal of attaining a 40-percent recycling rate. BOMA/Chicago members demonstrated an existing recycling rate of 60 percent, with many buildings already achieving significantly higher rates. Those efforts continue today as more buildings and more focused practices continue to push recycling rates higher.

Transportation Initiatives

As the City of Chicago undertakes efforts to improve transportation and relieve congestion in the Central Business District, BOMA/Chicago has advocated in support of constructive proposals on behalf of its members. BOMA/Chicago has been involved in discussions with policy makers on matters including Rapid Bus Transit, bicycle usage and parking, and public transportation.