eLab Accelerator 2020

Midwest Affordable Housing Electrification Pilot

Aerial View of Chicago Lake Shore Dr at sunrise in Autumn - October 2019

Project Description

The team, championed by Elevate Energy, set out to design a pilot focused on electrifying multifamily affordable housing in Chicago. Building electrification poses an opportunity to improve comfort, stabilize utility bills, and recapitalize investments in affordable housing. The lessons learned from this pilot are meant to inform broader electrification initiatives including rate and incentive design, contractor collaboration, procurement mechanisms, financial products, and implementation venues.

What The Team Achieved By Participating in Accelerator

The team focused on several critical aspects for successful pilot design. These included defining the building archetypes that would work well for an electrification retrofit of an existing building in Chicago; understanding the missing perspectives (especially from the tenants); and modeling the customer economics of electrification in this building stock.

The team was composed of a diverse set of representatives, including affordable housing developers and environmental advocates. They worked to educate each other, identify opportunities and approaches, and establish priorities to successfully launch a pilot program that will also lead to replication throughout the Midwest.

Within a quick four-month period, e-Lab’s structured facilitation helped the team robustly define their program objectives and criteria for success, in a process that also secured team commitment to support the pilot going forward. The team emerged with a draft pilot plan and a high-level monitoring and evaluation approach that not only evaluates success of the pilot but also proves the scalability of building electrification projects across Chicago. They will continue to work together on selecting suitable sites and technologies for the pilots, researching the tenant health impacts, and developing contractor and manufacturer relationships.

Team Members

- Anne Evens, Elevate Energy, CEO

- Margaret Garascia, Elevate Energy, Senior Manager

- Charlene Andreas, LUCHA, Director of Building Development

- Chris Neme, Energy Futures Group, Principal

- Dave Kolata, Citizens Utility Board, Executive Director

- Erica Borggren, ComEd, VP of Customer Solutions

- Hans Detweiler, Midwest Building Decarbonization Coalition

- Mark Milby, ComEd, Manager of Energy Efficiency R&D

- Michael Burton, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp., Asset Management Director

- Samantha Williams, NRDC, Director, Midwest Region, Climate & Clean Energy Program