Chicago Housing Authority Achieves First-Ever BIT Building™ Certification

Sustainable best practices for key property are also a first for any public housing authority

ATLANTA, GA—JUNE 24, 2020— Southface Institute announced today that the Chicago Housing Authority has completed the BIT Building certification for the Dearborn Homes development, making them the first organization with buildings whose maintenance and operations include the program’s 16 Best Practices for resource efficiency and sustainability. The achievement represents the increasing adoption of green building practices by all kinds of organizations and businesses and is a first for a public housing authority.

What is the BIT Building program?

With only about 15% of U.S. buildings operationally eligible for sustainability certifications such as LEED or Energy Star, BIT Building gives facility operators and managers the opportunity to implement performance improvements to their buildings regardless of age or condition. BIT advisors guide the organization through the program’s 16 Best Practices for resource savings and optimization, and the organization determines which practices to implement first. Trained BIT Aides work with program participants to monitor and benchmark building operations, evaluate potential improvements and assist in implementing a continuous improvement plan.

The Dearborn Homes development

The Chicago Housing Authority’s Dearborn Homes property is in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. The midrise, multifamily residential property contains 668 one-, two- and three-bedroom units for a total of 706,989 square feet.

“We are pleased to achieve BIT Building certification for Dearborn Homes, demonstrating CHA’s continued commitment to sustainable operations,” said CHA CEO Tracey Scott. “Applying energy efficiency initiatives saves CHA energy and money, allowing the agency to allocate resources for programs and initiatives that directly benefit residents. Congratulations to our Sustainable Initiatives and Projects team for leading this important project.”

Reorganizing the existing maintenance and operations program within the 16 BIT Building best practices allows the CHA to analyze ongoing building operations for incremental improvements. Interior hallway and exterior pathway lighting was upgraded to LEDs, providing residents with high-quality lighting and well-lit space across the property. Units were renovated using low VOC paint, creating improved indoor environmental quality. Additionally, a newly energized solar installation will help decrease overall electrical usage and operating costs, as well as providing workforce development and job training opportunities for residents. By completing BIT Building audits for water usage and refrigerant leak detection, CHA will be better able to monitor and manage these systems.

CHA said the 16 Best Practices, which include energy, water, waste, and air quality auditing and planning, waste management and green cleaning, also help inform future capital planning to ensure the most environmentally conscious and sustainable materials and methods are used at their properties and freeing funds for other resident resources, such as service providers and onsite coordinators.

“CHA’s participation in the BIT Building Sustainable Operations Program supports our mission to provide safe, decent and affordable housing by providing a framework to measure increases in energy efficiency over time, implement best practices for sustainable operations in multifamily housing, and to inform preventive maintenance and capital planning efforts,” said Ellen Sargent, CHA’s Director of Sustainable Initiatives and Projects.

 For Southface, a leader in resource efficiency and sustainability since 1978, the achievement represents the growth of interest in cities to help create resilience in all its neighborhoods:

“We are thrilled to have helped CHA achieve this tremendous milestone for Dearborn Homes and hope it can pave the way for other affordable housing developments across the country to make sustainability a priority. Southface’s goal in building healthier, more equitable communities requires that all of us have access to safe, healthy and energy-efficient places to live, and we thank CHA for being a national leader in this effort,” said Andrea Pinabell, President of Southface Institute.”

Chicago’s climate health commitment

Chicago has a long-standing commitment to environmental prosperity and climate health. For the past three years, Chicago is the nation’s leader in energy-efficient office buildings, according to the 2019 National Green Building Adoption Index published by CBRE Group Inc, Maastricht University and the University of Guelph. According to the report, 71.1 percent of the office buildings in Chicago, over 167 million square feet, are market-certified green. Twenty percent of all Chicago office buildings are green for a total of 1,411 buildings. Last August, the city adopted an Energy Rating System for large buildings over 50,000 square feet, which are the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

About Southface Institute

Southface Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, is a leader in sustainable advocacy, building, planning and operations across the U.S. With a mission to create a healthy and equitably built environment for all, Southface’s programs, consulting services, education, research and policy practices are supporting better homes, workplaces and communities. Experts in the fields of resource efficiency, building tech and organizational sustainability since 1978, Southface is committed to building a regenerative economy to meet tomorrow’s needs today.

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Media Inquiries

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