Public Building Commission Environmental Sustainability

The Public Building Commission of Chicago (PBC) is committed to improving the environmental quality of life for all Chicagoans. As a developer of public facilities, the Public Building Commission of Chicago (PBC) has developed a unique and comprehensive approach to environmental stewardship and sustainability. The PBC's commitment to sustainable development is integrated into every project the agency manages. This includes:

  • Diversion of construction waste from landfills
  • Utilization of durable and recycled materials in construction
  • Reflective roofs
  • Occupancy light sensors/controls
  • High efficiency heating and cooling systems
  • Low flow/low consumption water usage
  • Native and adaptive landscape species
  • Aggressive storm water management

The PBC's Environmental Sustainability Program is recognized by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) through its LEED certification program. PBC targets as a minimum LEED Silver certification for all of its projects, but often exceeds that level. In keeping with PBC Chairman Mayor Rahm Emanuel's sustainability goals, the PBC achieved LEED certification for 58 projects in 2013, making Chicago the leader in the country on LEED-certified public buildings. Due in large part to the PBC's commitment to green building, the City of Chicago has the most LEED certified municipal buildings in the nation. In June 2011, in one of his first official actions as PBC Chairman, Mayor Emanuel pledged to double the number of LEED certified municipally-owned buildings by 2015 and PBC is well on its way to achieving that goal.

Environmental stewardship at PBC also involves the overall work carried out to prepare a site for construction.The PBC's environmental program also demonstrates excellence in meeting the challenges posed by environmentally contaminated project sites throughout the City of Chicago and Cook County. PBC's environmental mission goes beyond the remediation of an individual project site and supports the environmental and economic health of the larger community as well. With urban development sites that are typically located in areas challenged by industrial contamination, and in neighborhoods suffering from blight, PBC's environmental program serves as a catalyst of positive development and brings vital community anchors into neighborhoods throughout the city.

PBC's environmental program was honored in April 2014 with the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) award of excellence for its outstanding environmental program. The program focuses on environmental planning, the use of efficient and environmentally friendly technologies and sustainable design when redeveloping Brownfields sites. The PBC was singled out for its overall excellence in environmental management as demonstrated in its work on two projects, one of which will be used as a national pilot program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency around the country. The award highlights PBC's practices of using an integrated planning approach, best management practices, innovative approaches like in-situ remediation and integrating LEED- strategies to go beyond standard practices and raises the bar for environmental excellence on public projects.

PBC also is managing Retrofit One, the first public sector project under the Retrofit Chicago initiative. Retrofit One is designed to improve the energy efficiency of 60 public buildings in Chicago and reduce energy costs. The $13 million initiative will cover 4.9 million square feet in city-owned buildings. It is estimated that once the work is completed, the City's energy bill will be reduced by approximately $1.4 million per year and those savings will be used to pay back the project costs. The energy savings is equivalent to taking 2,900 cars off the road annually.

Combined, this work by PBC is helping to lessen the carbon footprint in Chicago and make our communities safer, cleaner and more livable.

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