Chicago's famous skyline–from the John Hancock Building, to the Willis Tower to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Building–features some of the most distinctive and attractive architecture in the world. The skyline, which for decades has set the standard for urban designers everywhere, now faces a new challenge: the aging condition of many of its buildings and, as a result, the increased maintenance costs that come along with that.
Chicago's downtown building infrastructure faces a critical time in its history. Nearly 75% of the city's downtown buildings were constructed prior to 1975, under out-of-date architectural and environmental regulations that fall short of today's more rigorous standards. The reality of rising electricity costs, stronger environmental regulations and increased public demands, have consumers as well as local and state governments searching for better energy conservation strategies that save money and add business value.
In June of 2013, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced the Energy Benchmarking Ordinance, which requires energy use tracking and reporting for approximately 3,500 municipal, commercial and residential buildings. Buildings are the number one consumer of energy and resources. The ordinance was a first step to building a platform for engaging incentives as they become available within the marketplace. This represents an outstanding growth opportunity for energy service companies and contractors in the public and private sectors.
Recent environmental regulations are creating an environment in Chicago for growth. This will likely mean staggering levels of square footage ready for retrofitting. In a time when new construction must meet LEED "green" building standards for sustainability and reduced maintenance and energy costs, it is clear that Chicago represents a market with a growing list of construction and outfitting needs which create attractive business opportunities for the customer. With financing rates and capital availability at its best levels since 2008, the timing has never been better for those customers equipped to meet the needs of the marketplace.
LED technology is well suited to meet today's building standards for sustainability, energy conservation and reduced energy costs. Lighting accounts for more than 25% of the energy used in buildings. Recent improvements in 40 year old LED technology have resulted in "clean", reliable and highly efficient products that have sparked growing demand. Add in the fact that prices of these LED products have dropped significantly and that retrofits have become highly economical, and the benefits become obvious.
Contractors can best take advantage of the current situation by taking a few smart steps:
In today's highly competitive marketplace, a well-trained and capable workforce is perfectly poised for meet market needs. Opportunities are there. Those that creatively integrate, partner, and diversify their approach will be more able to adapt to the most vital needs of today's customer.