Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act is a Policy Victory for High-Performance Building

In September, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and the State legislature enacted the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA). CEJA is one of the most comprehensive and ambitious energy bills to be enacted anywhere in the United States; it will have positive and far-reaching effects for years. Unsurprisingly, Phius’ mission to get more energy efficient single-family, multifamily and commercial buildings built will be positively affected. 

tierra linda new 02The 963-page bill (told you it was comprehensive) covers numerous energy-related topics including: 

  • Energy efficiency (more on that below)
  • Zero Energy: The bill sets 2045 (sooner than you think) as the year when Illinois achieves a 100% zero-emission power sector. 
  • Renewable Energy: 50% of Illinois’ energy generated by wind and solar (with intermediate steps)
  • Workforce Training: Funding to get a trained workforce to support the energy transition, particularly in low-income communities
  • Transportation: Rebates for electric vehicles and vehicle charging stations

Energy Efficiency

The legislation devotes significant attention to energy efficiency. Measures include: 

  • Requiring utilities to submit energy efficiency plans past 2030 (currently, 2030 was the last year utilities needed to do this and it’s not like the climate crisis is scheduled to end on January 1, 2031).
  • Requiring utilities to increase spending in low-income communities, with a majority of funding going to whole-house energy efficiency retrofits.
  • Allowing utilities to meet their energy efficiency goals through electrification (importantly, 25% of funding in this area is specified for low-income communities).

Building Energy Efficiency

CEJA also includes groundbreaking requirements directly relating to building energy efficiency (near and dear to the hearts of Phius people everywhere):

  • The legislation mandates a step stretch energy code. The act requires the Capital Development Board (CDB) — the state agency charged with writing the Illinois Energy Efficiency Code — to develop a new code every three years through 2031 with each version more energy efficient than the last. This is important as anyone who follows the progress of the International Energy Efficiency Code knows that the IECC can go several three-year cycles without seeing any improvement.  
  • The CDB shall allow an alternative compliance path for buildings certified as achieving passive house levels of efficiency (the act doesn’t explicitly call out any organization). 

Phius promotes energy efficiency through the expansion of incentive programs and progressively stronger energy codes. States that have incorporated these policies, such as Massachusetts and Connecticut, have seen an explosive increase in the number of high efficiency buildings (including buildings certified by Phius). With the continuing policy advancement in Illinois, we hope/expect to see similar progress here in the future.

One thought on “Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act is a Policy Victory for High-Performance Building

  1. Great insights here and wonderful to see these steps in action in Illinois. Chicago had an incredible Training Programs and Green Homes Program years ago. I am thrilled to see that an alternative compliance path focused on passive house levels of efficiency.
    Illinois Green Alliance and PHIUS along with their teams and members have worked hard to get this far and there is a lot to be done here. Excited to see these steps begining to be formed.

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