Richard M. Daley is Chicago's longest-serving mayor, holding the post since 1989. A visionary leader, Daley redesigned Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, and created downtown's beloved and critically-acclaimed Millennium Park.
In 1999, Daley's eyes turned green with ambitions of turning Chicago into the most environmentally-friendly city in the nation. He proposed and oversaw the most expansive solar project the US had witnessed to date: a citywide portfolio of 28 independently-operating solar power systems collectively generating over 1.2 MW of power. Participating buildings included some of the city's most prestigious museums, as well as schools, courthouses, parks, and affordable housing.
A project of this magnitude was unprecedented, and required the collaboration of local government, organized labor, the regional public utility, ComEd, and solar project development experts at Spire to make Mayor Daley’s ambitions a reality. Over the course of several years, solar installations ranging from rooftops, ground mounts, building-integrated PV (BIPV), and other applications were designed, installed, and brought online by Spire Solar and the Chicago Solar Partnership. In addition to the obvious environmental and financial benefits recognized by members, the projects also served to increase awareness about solar energy for local residents and students, as well as people all over the country.
Spire worked with all project stakeholders through every aspect of the project overcoming technical, financial, regulatory and other hurdles. Spire even set up a manufacturing facility on Chicago’s West Side to produce PV panels locally for participating sites. The initiative marked the turning point for the widespread adoption of urban solar energy in the US.
A partial list of participating sites include: Children's Place Vision House; Chicago Historical Society; The Field Museum; DuSable Museum of African American History; The Art Institute of Chicago; Chicago Center for Green Technology; The Museum of Science and Industry; The National Museum of Mexican Art; Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum; Cook County Domestic Violence Court; 911 Call Center; ComEd North, ComEd South, and ComEd Payment Center; Exelon Pavilions at Millennium Park; Millennium Park Bike Shelter; and Lakefront Holland, Lakefront Wentworth, Homan Square and Bethel New Life Housing, among others.