The Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago (BOMA/Chicago), the City of Chicago and Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) have united to endorse voluntary year-round Exterior Decorative Lighting Guidelines for Chicago's buildings. The guidelines provide year-round recommendations for all non-emergency exterior lighting, including crown and facade lighting, signage, street-level and tree lighting. When implemented throughout the city, the guidelines will reduce the carbon footprint of Chicago-area buildings, protect migratory birds and decrease light pollution.
The year-round Exterior Decorative Lighting Guidelines were formalized following several successful years of collaboration with the Earth Hour campaign, which BOMA/Chicago, ComEd and the City of Chicago have participated in since its inception in 2008. The guidelines take the Earth Hour concept one step further by encouraging Chicago's buildings to enact climate change on a daily basis. This year, Earth Hour will be observed on the evening of March 27, when businesses and homes throughout the nation and the world will turn off their lights for one hour. Last year, more than 80 million Americans in 300 cities and nearly 1 billion people around the world participated in Earth Hour.
As the trade association representing more than 260 buildings in downtown Chicago, BOMA/Chicago is in a unique position to rally support for the voluntary year-round Exterior Decorative Lighting Guidelines. Twenty-one buildings have formally endorsed and implemented the guidelines, including 10 South Riverside Plaza, 120 South Riverside Plaza, 123 North Wacker, 20 North Clark, 20 North Michigan, 200 South Michigan, 222 South Riverside Plaza, 225 West Wacker, 303 East Wacker, 311 South Wacker, 550 West Van Buren, 939 North Avenue Collection, Aon Center, CNA Building, Congress Center, John Hancock Center, LaSalle Wacker Building, Merchandise Mart, Richard J. Daley Center, Willis Tower and the Wrigley Building.
The voluntary year-round Exterior Decorative Lighting Guidelines contain morning- and evening-specific recommendations that mirror the changing sunrise and sunset times in order to reduce light pollution while maximizing efficiency. The morning guidelines suggest that Chicago's buildings program their exterior lights to go on no earlier than 5 a.m. and to turn off no later than 30 minutes before official sunrise. The evening guidelines encourage buildings to turn their decorative lights on no earlier than 30 minutes after sunset. Evening lights should be powered off no later than 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and no later than 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with the exception of July 4 and December 31, when evening lights may remain on until 1 a.m.
"Having worked with the City of Chicago and ComEd on a wide array of successful environmental initiatives, BOMA/Chicago is proud to serve as the clearinghouse for Chicago's buildings to adopt the voluntary year-round Exterior Decorative Lighting Guidelines," said Michael Cornicelli, executive vice president of BOMA/Chicago. "As a steward of environmental sustainability and responsibility, we believe these voluntary guidelines are a proactive way for Chicago's buildings to extend the Earth Hour concept throughout the year and minimize their impact on the environment."
By endorsing the voluntary year-round Exterior Decorative Lighting Guidelines, Chicago's buildings will help save thousands of migratory birds each year, decrease harmful carbon dioxide waste and reduce the cost of unnecessary lighting. Unshielded outdoor lights are directly responsible for 14.7 million tons of carbon dioxide waste in the United States each year and cost more than $2.2 billion annually to power, according to the International Dark-Sky Association.
While many buildings already voluntarily follow similar exterior decorative lighting procedures, BOMA/Chicago, the City of Chicago and ComEd are encouraging all of Chicago's downtown buildings to complete an Exterior Decorative Lighting Guidelines agreement form and incorporate the guidelines into their day-to-day operations. Agreement forms and the full table of lighting guidelines can be found on BOMA/Chicago's green micro site, www.bomagreenchicago.org.
BOMA/Chicago, ComEd and the City of Chicago have joined efforts to support a variety of environmental initiatives, including Earth Hour, Chicago's Green Office Challenge and an educational seminar, "Green Saves, Green Pays."
"We're proud that so many of Chicago's buildings have endorsed these guidelines, and we urge others to do the same," said Cornicelli. "Not only does this important initiative make sound business sense, it also brings us one step closer to achieving Mayor Daley's goal of making Chicago the most sustainable city in the world."