The Economic Benefits of Advancing Clean Building Policies in the Windy City


Chicago is home to more than 12,000 workers engaged in work directly related to making Chicago’s building sector cleaner and more efficient. This workforce includes workers who replace old insulation in the attics of single-family homes, fit new pipes for geothermal heating and cooling systems in commercial buildings, and install electric stoves and air source heat pumps in homes and buildings.

To better understand how electrifying and making Chicago’s buildings more energy efficient would impact the city’s labor market, E2 took a deeper dive into Chicago’s overall clean buildings employment data.

Building Decarbonization and Electrification Employment by Value Chain, 2021

Professional Services 5,769
Construction 4,459
Manufacturing 1,726
Wholesale Trade 664
Other Services 104
Total 12,722

Policies Matter

Policies that support electrifying and making Chicago’s buildings more energy efficient can create job opportunities and result in substantial economic and climate benefits for Chicago residents. With the Inflation Reduction Act incentives creating an unprecedented opportunity for cities, states, and customers to advance clean energy and building retrofits, the time to act is now. The City of Chicago must pass the following by early 2023:

  • Carbon Emissions Standard for New Construction: Adopt the proposed Clean Buildings, Clean Air ordinance that sets a carbon emissions standard to prohibit fossil fuel powered appliances in new commercial and residential construction and gut renovations of existing buildings. The ordinance phases in requirements starting with lower-rise buildings in mid-2024 and for taller buildings by end of 2024 and includes exceptions for select uses like industrial processes, hospitals, and commercial cooking.


Download the complete report at at this link.


This analysis of the United States Energy and Employment Report (USEER) was produced by BW Research for E2. The USEER survey includes workers who spend a plurality of their time working to improve the energy efficiency of a building, factory, residence, etc., without regard to the type of energy source used—including those workers who may still may still be installing high-efficiency gas technologies. As buildings transition from gas to all-electric these jobs will transition with them, as the skills required for both technologies are highly transferable.

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