Tally is in: Chicago Green Office Challenge Announces Winners

CHICAGO, Ill. (June 10, 2015) – Delta Institute CEO Jean Pogge joined City of Chicago Chief Sustainability Officer Karen Weigert, Yalmaz Siddiqui, Senior Director of Sustainability for Office Depot, and George Malek, director of Energy Efficiency Services at ComEd, to announce the final results and winners of the 2014-2015 Chicago Green Office Challenge, an impact-driven sustainability competition among commercial offices to promote resource efficiency, save money, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

More than 500 individuals from 170 Chicago offices ‘played’ this year’s Challenge by taking concrete steps to strengthen and promote sustainable practices at work and at home. In total, participants completed over 2,850 activities to improve office sustainability, ranging from retrofitting lighting and water fixtures to redesigning office recycling programs. Over 250 participants took the Challenge into their homes, using energy-saving devices like smart strips and programmable thermostats to reduce their environmental impacts.

  • Through citywide sustainability competition, 170 Chicago offices strive to go green.
  • Participant efforts yield annual savings of 690,000 kWh and 705,000 gallons of water, and reduce 71 tons of waste.

“With energy use in buildings accounting for 71 percent of Chicago’s carbon emissions, the Green Office Challenge is a great opportunity for Chicago’s businesses to reduce their environmental impact while saving money and driving positive business results,” said Weigert. “Congratulations to all participants, and thank you for your concrete efforts to make Chicago the most livable, competitive and sustainable city in the 21st century.”

“With over 170 offices taking part in the fourth round of the Chicago Green Office Challenge, it is clear that the program now has an established place within the City’s vibrant sustainability culture,” said Siddiqui. “We’re particularly encouraged by Chicago Challenge participant efforts to write and implement greener purchasing policies – a relatively under-appreciated but disproportionally meaningful area of sustainability practice.”

Participants in the 2014-2015 Challenge collectively achieved the following impacts:

  • Reduced energy usage by 690,383 kWh (or kilowatt hours) annually, which is equivalent to taking 43 homes off the grid for one year.
    • Eight offices completed lighting retrofits, which are expected to save a collective 574,530 kilowatt hours and over $48,662 in energy costs annually.
    • 263 individuals replaced incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs at home, which is the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 10 cars off the road for one year.
  • Saved over 705,000 gallons of water annually, which is equivalent to over 5.6 million 16-oz. water bottles.
    • Thirteen offices and 59 households installed high-efficiency sink aerators, resulting in approximately $2,550 in savings on their water bills.
  • Reduced the equivalent of 71 tons of waste annually through expanded recycling and waste reduction efforts.
    • 96% of participants already offered office recycling, and many offices improved those programs with new outreach and education efforts or by expanding recycling streams to include batteries, e-waste, toner, plastic bags, or compost.
    • Over 175 households instituted paperless billing, and 44 households began composting food scraps.

Among the many sustainability activities encouraged by the Challenge, energy efficiency improvements accounted for the highest share of points logged by participants, both in the office and at home. “Small changes in energy habits can have a noticeable impact on strengthening a building’s operations and maximizing energy efficiency,” said Malek. “ComEd is pleased to see the momentum carried by this year’s participants, which will help them lower their energy use and meet sustainability goals.”

Challenge participants earned points by completing activities to improve sustainability not only in the workplace but also at home. This Challenge marked the first year that participants’ at-home sustainability efforts grew to account for nearly 60% of the completed activities and 14% of the total points tallied.

“This year, we saw more participants take these sustainability lessons into their homes than ever before, which means that we’re positively influencing individual behavior in both residential as well as commercial spaces,” said Delta CEO Jean Pogge. “Delta Institute is proud to help inspire that sustainability ripple effect across Chicago.”

Architecture firm Perkins Eastman was recognized for its achievements in several Challenge categories, including energy and at-home activities. “As architects and designers, we encourage our clients to adopt environmentally-responsible and sustainable practices, wherever possible,” said architect Steven Burgos. “The Green Office Challenge presented our team with a fun and motivational platform to put those sustainable living principles into practice, and we were able to create a better, more efficient, and less wasteful work environment in the process.

The 2015 Chicago Green Office Challenge awards were presented in the following categories:

  • Sustainability Grand Champion: 71 South Wacker Drive Holdings LLC
    • Company also won awards for water, waste, and purchasing impacts.
  • Outstanding Sustainability Leader: Perkins Eastman
    • Company also won awards for employee engagement and energy and at-home impacts.
  • Energy Conservation Leader:  American College of Healthcare Executives
  • Green Transit Leader: Perkins Eastman & 71 South Wacker Holdings LLC
  • Social Media Master:  Coalition: Energy
  • Outstanding Tenant Engagement:  Riverview Realty Partners
  • Greener Purchasing Policy Leader:  Thornton Tomasetti
  • All-Star Green Team: KPMG LLP

Originally launched in 2008, this citywide competition has served as a model for over a dozen similar sustainability competitions across the country.  To learn about how you can participate in the next Chicago Green Office Challenge, look for updates on ChicagoGOC.com, Facebook.com/ChicagoGreenOfficeChallenge, and Twitter @ChiGreenOffice.

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About Delta Institute: Delta Institute is a nonprofit organization that works to catalyze environmental sustainability and economic development throughout the Great Lakes region. Visit online at https://delta-institute.org.

Recognition of Challenge Participants

Congratulations to all who participated in the 2014-2015 Chicago Green Office Challenge!


71 South Wacker Drive Holdings LLC

Perkins Eastman

Riverview Realty Partners


Thornton Tomasetti

Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance


Purohit Navigation

Mayer Brown LLP

Constellation Brands/Crown Imports

Loyola University Institute of Environmental   Sustainability Program

Elevate Energy

Motorola Solutions


BMO Harris Bank

James McHugh Construction Co.



Grumman/Butkus Associates

American College of Healthcare Executives

Franklin Energy Services – O’Hare office

Educational Assistance Ltd.


Franklin Energy Services, LLC – Goose Island


PositivEnergy Practice, LLC

Engineering/CH2M HILL


Office Depot, Inc.

Institute of Real Estate Management

DESMAN Associates

Peace Corps Midwest Regional Recruiting Office


The Langham Hotel


Coalition: Energy

Trane – Ingersoll Rand

CH2M Hill


American Medical Association

Delta Institute

Shorenstein Realty Services, L.P.

Simple Truth

Antunovich Associates

Urban Innovations, Ltd.

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

550 West Washington – JLL




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