Energy Retrofits

Utility bills account for a large portion of the operating costs for a multifamily building, making energy costs one of the primary challenges to maintaining affordability in rental housing.

The Energy Savers Program, pioneered by Preservation Compact partners CNT Energy and Community Investment Corporation in 2007, offers free energy assessments for multifamily buildings and low cost financing for energy saving improvements.

To date, the Energy Savers program has completed assessments on more than 20,000 units, retrofitted over 8,000 units, created over 400 jobs, and saved almost 2 million gas therms.  A typical 24-unit building retrofitted by Energy Savers saves $10,000 annually.


The Preservation Compact convened a working group to develop strategies to bring energy retrofits to more multifamily properties. The group has engaged with utility companies, the Illinois Commerce Commission, and the Mayor’s Innovations Delivery Team responsible for improving energy efficiency throughout Chicago.

In February 2012, the Compact hosted an Energy Efficiency Showcase, where building owners and managers learned about the financing and construction options available for improving energy efficiency in multifamily properties.

Next Steps

Utility companies collect small fees from each customer to fund energy efficiency programs for residential, commercial, and industrial properties in Illinois.  Annual budgets for programs in northern Illinois exceed $220 million, but the primary energy efficiency program available to multifamily buildings is installation of compact fluorescent light bulbs.  

Rate-payer funded programs should offer comprehensive retrofits for multifamily buildings—including air sealing and insulation—which provide far greater energy savings than CFLs.