AIA Chicago supports the Clean and Affordable Buildings Ordinance (CABO) Introduced in the Chicago City Council


Photo: Illinois Green Alliance

January 25, 2024, Chicago


Architects are charged with protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public through the design of buildings that are safe for those who use them, and that includes the neighborhoods and cities in which the buildings are located.  As the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, AIA Chicago represents approximately 4,000 architects and related professionals. By promoting the design of buildings without natural gas connections, the Clean and Affordable Buildings Ordinance (CABO) will eliminate harmful emissions in all newly constructed or significantly renovated buildings. This proposed ordinance aligns with the goals of our national organization to support effective actions that exponentially decelerate the production of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.  
Over 50 other municipalities in the United States, including New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, have already passed similar ordinances, providing a national precedent for local action. The Chicago ordinance is based on findings from the Chicago Building Decarbonization Working Group Recommendations Report, public health research, and data that demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of building electrification.    
Chicago’s Clean and Affordable Buildings Ordinance will advance Chicago’s 62% carbon emissions reduction goal by 2040, as set out in the 2022 Chicago Climate Action Plan. In Chicago, 68% of all GHG emissions come from buildings, the largest single source, and architects are uniquely positioned to address this fact. CABO will also improve the health and safety of people who work and live in Chicago buildings by drastically reducing fossil fuel combustion in newly constructed or substantially renovated buildings.  
According to a recent peer-reviewed analysis, 21% of childhood asthma cases in Illinois are directly linked to indoor natural gas combustion for residential cooking. Additionally, this ordinance will lead to new economic opportunities for Chicagoans in the clean energy economy, especially in communities and for residents on the frontlines of the climate crisis. A final goal of CABO is to alleviate the utility burden on Chicagoans who are struggling to pay their bills. At least one in four Chicagoans cannot afford to pay their natural gas bill while rates continue to increase.  
As a profession, architects have the responsibility to prioritize and support effective actions to exponentially decelerate the production of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. It is architects’ responsibility to work globally to help reduce operational and embodied greenhouse gas production with passive design techniques, employ energy efficiency measures, adapt existing buildings, and specify low-impact building materials that increase human health and productivity while withstanding the effects of a changing climate. Members of AIA Chicago are already tackling these challenges and stand ready to do more.


Take Action

Sign On to Support the Clean and Affordable Buildings Ordinance (CABO) through Illinois Green Alliance
By signing this form, Illinois Green Alliance will add your name to their letter of support for CABO. By signing, there are also opportunities for you to get connected with your Alderperson to write in support of this ordinance.

Attend AIA Chicago’s Next Advocacy Committee Meeting
Monday, February 26; 12:00 – 1:00 PM
If you’re passionate about shaping Chicago’s built environment and want your voice heard, then AIA Chicago’s Advocacy Committee meeting is the place to be. Join this vibrant community of architects, designers, and enthusiasts actively working with leaders to influence policy and shape our city.

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