Our Sustainability Practices

Improving our energy use, recycling abilities, and overall impact on the environment

In a concerted effort to reduce our carbon footprint, energy consumption, and the amount of waste we produce, the Chicago History Museum is involved with several programs, initiatives, and projects, as well as internal goals:

  • We are a member of the Illinois Green Alliance, which is “a membership-driven nonprofit that works to promote green buildings and sustainable communities.” Being an IGA member means that we have been acknowledged for our ongoing efforts to reduce waste and energy consumption.
  • We recycle in a variety of ways including: e-waste, such as monitors, CPUs, TVs, motors, breakers, etc.; paper, particularly in the copier areas; as well as plastic, glass, and aluminum from daily garbage, which is separated by our housekeeping team. We also offer battery recycling to the public in the main lobby.
  • We have just completed the first phase of our larger plan for building automation and upgrades to our HVAC system. This includes: replacing two outdated 250-ton chillers with two new magnetic drive chillers that run at almost half the energy use and with more ecofriendly coolant; placing variable frequency drives (VFDs) on all our air handler motors; updating our building automation system and automating our boilers. With future funding, we would like to completely automate all our HVAC systems and replace our boilers with high efficiency boilers. We will be replacing our antiquated cooling tower with a high efficiency cooling tower.
  • We have started to remove all old compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL) and replace them with light-emitting diode (LED) lights and fixtures. By replacing one CFL bulb with a LED bulb, we are reducing energy consumption by over 65% for each bulb. We are working with ComEd to get incentives to help us install motion detectors, occupancy sensors, and new LED lights and fixtures throughout the facility. These upgrades can reduce our carbon footprint and energy consumption by at least 25%.
  • Under current initiatives, we have reduced our kilowatt usage by almost 90k kilowatts per month, resulting in more than 20% reduction in our kilowatt usage.
  • Our goal is to receive an Energy Star from the Environmental Protection Agency. The designation is given to buildings and businesses that meet certain criteria of energy consumption and performance. If CHM achieves this designation, we would be only the third museum in the Midwest with such a distinct honor.
  • We are also looking into renewable/green energy to help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and our overall dependence on ComEd. We currently have outdated solar panels, but we are looking to update them if we can find funding. We are also looking at wind turbines to place around the Museum campus, particularly a French-made design call Arbre à vent (“wind tree”) that would blend into our park setting. We are currently looking into grants and other funding and specifications from the city and park district to move this forward.
  • We hosted a tree planting day in October 2023, which saw 23 new trees planted in Lincoln Park and around our campus in conjunction with Openlands and the office of US representative Mike Quigley.

We are always looking for ways to improve our energy use, recycling abilities, and overall impact on the environment. CHM has a firm belief in renewable energy, lower energy consumption, less waste, and renewing green spaces around our campus.

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