<i>Design Snapshot</i> — Chicago’s Multi-Family Energy Retrofit Program: Expanding Retrofits With Private Financing

The city of Chicago is increasing retrofits by using stimulus dollars to expand the opportunity for energy efficient living to low-income residents of large multi-family rental buildings. To aid this target demographic, often left underserved by existing programs, the city’s new Multi-Family Energy Retrofit Program introduces an innovative model for retrofit delivery that relies on private sector financing and energy service companies.

Chicago’s new Multi-Family Energy Retrofit Program draws on multi-sector collaboration, with an emphasis on private sector involvement supported by public and nonprofit resources. Essentially, the program applies the model of private energy service companies (ESCOs), long-used in the public sector, to the affordable, multi-family housing market. In this framework, ESCOs conduct assessments of building energy performance, identify and oversee implementation of cost-effective retrofit measures, and guarantee energy savings to use as a source of loan repayment.