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Project Launch: 02/01/2019
Income Eligible

Partners: Slipstream, Southface, Illinois Green Alliance, Environmental Defense Fund

This project assessed the effect of using the BIT Building Standard as the basis for a workforce training program and the impacts it may have on the energy efficiency of multi-family buildings in income eligible communities.


The project applied BIT Building practices to unite energy efficiency and workforce development in income eligible communities. BIT Building is a set of cost-effective industry standards for existing buildings that enables all types of commercial and multi-family residential property owners and operators to adopt high-performance best practices. Ten Chicago Housing Authority(CHA) residents were recruited and trained and three of them were selected to serve as energy performance improvement coaches, called BIT Aides, using the BIT curriculum.

In addition to training BIT Aides, the project team recruited 30 CHA buildings to participate in benchmarking their energy, air quality, water and waste performance in order to seek opportunity for improvements. The BIT Aides also assisted CHA building operators in making operational improvements that generate energy savings and support owners/operators through utility energy efficiency incentive application processes. The project team assisted BIT Aides in collecting operational and energy usage data for each building and created a robust measurement and verification strategy to understand the project's overall impact on energy use over time.

Results and Outcomes

The BIT Aides identified significant energy efficiency opportunities in the participating CHA buildings and they were able to support the CHA building managers by benchmarking past and current energy performance, prioritizing low-cost savings opportunities and integrating capital planning for energy efficiency improvements in the annual budgeting processes. It is often challenging for public housing building managers to dedicate the time and resources necessary to complete energy benchmarking requirements and regular building performance plans, these services were identified as a gap in existing programs that could bring value to Public Housing Authority customers. The BIT Aides also provided the CHA building managers with lists of cost-effective energy conservation measures that they identified which included lighting retrofits in indoor common spaces, timed lighting controls and sensors, efficient ventilation systems, smart thermostats and phasing out old radiators with energy-efficient heat pumps in the long-term.

Workforce development was a significant focus of this pilot. The ten BIT trainees and the three hired BIT Aides were provided with a certificate of completion for the two-month BIT training program which covered a wide range of energy efficiency and building performance topics and useful skills. The three hired BIT Aides gained hands-on experience with benchmarking, audits, data analysis, modeling and project management. The project team also provided the BIT Aides with networking opportunities, a career mapping workshop and supplemental trainings in the industry.