Achieving 50% Energy Savings in Chicago Homes: A Case Study for Advancing Equity and Climate Goals

Research output: NRELFact Sheet


Since 2019, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Elevate have collaborated to identify pathways to deep energy retrofits in Chicago's housing stock, document equity implications and co-benefits of this transition, and validate the findings by implementing retrofits in real Chicago homes. This document summarizes our analysis process to model advanced retrofit packages that lead to greater than 50% energy savings in Chicago homes. Based on these findings, we have also developed a roadmap with the City to guide implementation, and are deploying the recommended retrofit packages in real Chicago homes to realize these energy savings. This work was developed in collaboration with two key stakeholders - the City of Chicago and Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) - and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). NREL's Residential Buildings team maintains the best-in-class ResStock™ energy model of the U.S. residential building stock. For this work, we calibrated ResStock to Chicago's unique local housing stock to accurately simulate energy use in Chicago homes both for current conditions and with various retrofit scenarios. We simulated a wide range of potential building retrofits covering all aspects of residential energy use and then grouped these into packages based on energy and utility bill savings. ResStock can model diverse building types and housing characteristics, so we're able to observe the range of outcomes that might occur when these upgrades are deployed across the entire housing stock. We can then estimate potential energy savings from an advanced retrofit program on Chicago's housing stock by comparing the modeled energy use before versus after a retrofit. This novel version of ResStock, calibrated to Chicago with data from Elevate, can help City officials, ComEd, and other partners plan for community-scale decarbonization via residential retrofits. Specifically, this work contributes the following project goals: Develop a building retrofit prioritization strategy for Chicago single-family and 2- to 4-unit buildings; Identify neighborhoods and home types that have the highest potential for savings from electrification; and Assess the impact of advanced building retrofits on energy use, utility bills, and CO2 emissions at the city and building level. Although this study is specific to Chicago, its methods and learnings are applicable across the United States. These findings are especially notable for heat pumps and electrification retrofits in cold climates.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/FS-5500-83575


  • building energy modeling
  • heat pump
  • resstock
  • retrofit


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