US Green Building Council Illinois
At a Glance
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Lucas helped the US Green Building Council, Illinois, and the Chicago Housing Authority develop project management tools for increasing efficiency, improve the BIT Building Program application and locate opportunities for solar at the Altgeld Garden Site.
The US Green Building Council, Illinois, enlisted EDF Climate Corps fellow Lucas Johnson to improve the sustainability and efficiency of Chicago Housing Authority properties entering the BIT Building program-- designed to bridge the gap between the cost of LEED certification and implementation. In 2011, the authority researched whether LEED certification in the senior portfolio was a feasible strategy. When Lucas arrived, the Sustainable Initiatives and Projects Team had recently enrolled a few properties from the senior, family and scattered sites portfolio in a new pilot program called BIT, but needed assistance getting it started. The team also wanted to identify financing and business model options for a 5 MW solar project at Altgeld Gardens, a family property on the south side of Chicago.
Lucas began by reviewing the requirements of the BIT program, as well as CHA's operations manual and contracts with its property managers. It became clear that, while BIT does not require expensive investments, it asks for a wide array of policy adjustments. As a solution, Lucas developed project management tools to help the team stay on track.
For example, Lucas investigated ways to find energy savings via boiler operations. He visited properties that had been entered into the BIT pilot. After interviewing building engineers, he learned that engineers are interested in receiving regularly scheduled trainings on how to efficiently operate boilers. To illustrate the potential savings from better operations, Lucas developed an excel model of the boilers and their temperature settings.
Lucas also researched financing and business model options for CHA's solar project. He recommended third-party ownership of the solar array so that the project can qualify for the 30% federal solar investment tax credit, yielding project savings of ~$3 million on the ~$10 million project cost.
The investigation that Lucas performed on increased operational efficiencies revealed significant opportunity for decreased energy usage and cost. In one 16-building housing development alone, reducing hot water temperatures from 150 to 133 degrees F, setting building heating systems 5 degrees lower and turning common area air conditioning 2 degrees higher, could save CHA up to $31,000 in annual operating expenses, which translates into roughly 95 MWh in energy savings. With better trainings for building engineers, those modeled savings could be made into a reality. Additionally, by following a careful project management process for BIT implementation, CHA can move forward on sustainable building practices