2019 CAE Q2 Recap: Buildings and Transformation in Chicago

- Bridget Williams, Fellow

Every year, like this one, the Q2 breakfast focuses on Smart Buildings and Grid Modernization in the City of Chicago.

An intriguing line-up of technical and policy experts presented their perspectives on smart buildings and where the electric grid in Illinois is headed. This year, after thought provoking presentations and intimate discussion, the group voted on an actionable and provoking 12-month action statement to leverage climate change action in the city of Chicago.

HG Chissell, CEO of Advanced Energy Group, started the morning by reminding stakeholders of the climate change-induced stressors the City of Chicago faces. He challenged presenters to offer problem statements related to smart buildings and grid modernization that needs a collaborative, near-term solution. Paul Barter, P.E. Senior Electrical Engineer, WMA of A Salas O’Brien, gave another brief introduction to the group. Quoting the recently elected Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Mr. Barter explained a new meaning of the four stars in the Chicago flag: safety, schooling, stability, integrity. Normally representing historical events, Mayor Lightfoot reinterpreted the stars to have a new meaning for a new century. With that in mind the presenters offered their expertise on smart buildings and grid modernization.

Paul Barter, P.E.    Senior Electrical Engineer, WMA of A Salas O’Brien

Paul Barter, P.E.

Senior Electrical Engineer, WMA of A Salas O’Brien

Mandy La Brier    Director of Energy Management, City of Chicago

Mandy La Brier

Director of Energy Management, City of Chicago

Mandy La Brier, Director of Energy Management at the City of Chicago, credited the City with many achievements in energy efficiency upgrades and distributed energy development. Notably, Ms. La Brier noted a gap in building energy performance data monitoring and public reporting. Kelly Tomblin, Chief Executive Officer at INTREN, spoke about the surprising similarities between advanced electrical infrastructure development in Jamaica and the electric grid in Illinois. Ms. Tomblin emphasized her observation of a stronger desire to save energy in the Caribbean.

Erica Borggren, Vice President of Customer Solutions at ComEd, gave a brief overview of ComEd’s energy efficiency and renewable energy offerings. Her team, the customer solutions group, finds solutions in the age of a new grid by bringing together energy consumers and energy developers to streamline the participation process. George Bjelovuk, Vice President of Energy Solutions at Siemens, introduced the room to a new term, “prosumers,” because utility customers are not just consumers of energy anymore, but also producers and holders of energy. Lastly, Jenny Carney, Vice President of Sustainability, Energy and Climate Change at WSP, closed out the presentations with a wrap-up discussion on the importance of vital usable data for building decarbonization.

George Bjelovuk    Vice President of Energy Solutions, Siemens

George Bjelovuk

Vice President of Energy Solutions, Siemens

Individual tables were then challenged with developing a 12-month action statement with quarterly goals to help achieve decarbonization in Chicago. Ideas of carbon scorecards, benchmarking, data transparency, and petitioning the new Mayor of Chicago were defended in front of the group. After live voting and debate, most of the room voted on a one-year pilot project to develop the methodology for carbon scoring of buildings.

First, the pilot group will engage Mayor Lightfoot’s Energy & Transition team as well as building portfolio owners.

Second, the group will research and determine the best tool for reporting the carbon performance of buildings.

Then a group of buildings will be identified to pilot a scoring system for Chicago. Stakeholders will reconvene in a year to discuss the success of the pilot group and build on its success.


The Q3 stakeholder meeting will be held on October 3rd. The topic of this stakeholder meeting will be IoT, Technology, and Innovation.

Non-Member Participating Request Form.
(Members will receive a custom invitation.)

Advanced Energy Group is a stakeholder member-supported organization committed to developing and delivering advanced energy policies and solutions in key cities.  Stakeholder sessions are by invitation only. For details of our programming please visit:

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