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Chicago Challenges Offices to Go Green

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has launched round three of the Chicago Green Office Challenge.

The Green Office Challenge is a competition among local businesses to reduce energy, water, and waste while saving money. The activities should contribute to meeting the goals of the Challenge: to cut energy, water and materials use by 10 percent.

Since its first round was launched in 2008 by ICLEI, the model has been copied by 11 cities across the US.

Round three is a partnership between non-profit Delta Institute, signature sponsor Office Depot and technology start-up GreenPoint Partners. This round will run through 2013 and suggests activities that employees and building managers can undertake to green their business practices. The competition has previously been focused on office buildings and tenants in Chicago’s central Loop neighborhood, but this round will expand to businesses across the city.

Mayor Emanuel’s environmental action agenda, Sustainable Chicago 2015, sets a target of doubling participation and impact in round three, as part of a larger goal to accelerate the economy through sustainability.

In 2011, participants in Chicago’s Green Office Challenge saved $17.5 million in energy costs and reduced energy use by 124 million kWh. The efforts avoided more than 85,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide and diverted 43 percent of participants’ waste from landfills.

Municipalities that have already launched programs in the related Green Business Challenge include Houston, Arlington County, Va., and Charleston, S.C.

Houston’s Green Office Challenge participants in 2011 reduced energy use by 28 million kWh and water use by 74 million gallons and diverted 40 percent of their waste from landfills.

In July, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA launched its Green Business Challenge App – a customizable web application that encourages businesses and commercial property owners to save energy, water and waste through a year-long competition.

The app is available to all local governments, schools and corporations. It allows participants to take a baseline survey, browse a library of tips and resources, update their achievements and view a scorecard that tracks their progress.

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