CHA is first-ever Public Housing Authority to earn BIT Building Certification for improving building sustainability

Jun 24, 2020

Press contacts:
Office of Communications – Chicago Housing Authority
Molly Sullivan: (312)786-3344;
Matthew Aguilar: (312) 523-7067;

CHICAGO (June 24, 2020) – Southface Institute, a leader in sustainable advocacy, today announced that the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) Dearborn Homes development has achieved BIT Building Certification, making it the first-ever Public Housing Authority to accomplish the milestone of including the 16 BIT Practices for resource efficiency and sustainability for building operations and maintenance.

BIT Building is a set of cost-effective industry standards that all property owners can implement to improve building performance and raise sustainability levels to reduce carbon emissions and operational costs. CHA achieved certification by analyzing and then reorganizing the existing maintenance and operations program at Dearborn Homes within the BIT Building framework, and adopting more efficient and cost efficient best practices.

“We are pleased to achieve BIT Building certification for Dearborn Homes, demonstrating CHA’s continued commitment to sustainable operations,” said CHA CEO Tracey Scott. “Applying energy efficiency initiatives saves CHA energy and money, allowing the agency to allocate resources for programs and initiatives that directly benefit residents. Congratulations to our Sustainable Initiatives and Projects team for leading this important project.”

With only about 15 percent of U.S. buildings operationally eligible for sustainability certifications such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or Energy Star, BIT Building provides facility operators and managers guidance on implementing performance improvements to their buildings, regardless of age or condition. BIT advisors guide the organization through the program’s 16 Best Practices for resource savings and optimization, and the organization determines which practices to implement first.

Trained BIT Aides work with program participants to monitor and benchmark building operations, evaluate potential improvements and assist in implementing a continuous improvement plan.

For example, all interior hallway and exterior pathway lighting was upgraded to LED lightbulbs - providing residents with high quality lighting and well-lit spaces across the property. Units were renovated using low VOC paint for improved indoor environmental and air quality. A newly energized solar installation at Dearborn Homes will help decrease overall electrical usage and operating costs, while also providing workforce development and job training opportunities for residents.

The 16 BIT Practices, which include energy, water, waste, and air quality auditing and planning, waste management and green cleaning, will help inform future capital planning to ensure the most environmentally conscious and sustainable materials and methods are used at CHA properties. The CHA found that completing BIT Building audits for water usage and refrigerant leak detection could lead to better monitoring and management of these systems.

“CHA’s participation in the BIT Building Sustainable Operations Program supports our mission to provide safe, decent and affordable housing by providing a framework to measure increases in energy efficiency over time, implement best practices for sustainable operations in multifamily housing, and to inform preventive maintenance and capital planning efforts,” said Ellen Sargent, Director of Sustainable Initiatives and Projects.

Chicago has a long-standing commitment to environmental prosperity and climate health. For the past three years, Chicago is the nation’s leader in energy-efficient office buildings according to the 2019 National Green Building Adoption Index published by CBRE Group Inc, Maastricht University and the University of Guelph. According to the report, 71.1 percent of the office buildings in Chicago, over 167 million square feet, are market-certified green. Twenty percent of all Chicago office buildings are green for a total of 1,411 buildings. Last August, the city adopted an Energy Rating System for large buildings over 50,000 square feet, which are the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are thrilled to have helped CHA achieve this tremendous milestone for Dearborn Homes and hope it can pave the way for other affordable housing developments across the country to make sustainability a priority. Southface’s goal in building healthier, more equitable communities requires that all of us have access to safe, healthy and energy-efficient places to live, and we thank CHA for being a national leader in this effort,” said Andrea Pinabell, President of Southface Institute.

For more information on BIT Building, visit

About Southface Institute
Southface Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, is a leader in sustainable advocacy, building, planning and operations across the U.S. With a mission to create a healthy and equitably built environment for all, Southface’s programs, consulting services, education, research and policy practices are supporting better homes, workplaces and communities. Experts in the fields of resource efficiency, building tech and organizational sustainability since 1978, Southface is committed to building a regenerative economy to meet tomorrow’s needs today.