Fast Company “2020 World Changing Idea Awards"


April 28, 2020

Finance program for energy-saving and sustainable infrastructure in commercial buildings receives acclaim in “Politics and Policy” category.

April 28, 2020 -- The winners of Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards were announced today, honoring the businesses, policies, projects, and concepts that are actively engaged and deeply committed to flattening the curve when it comes to the climate crisis, social injustice, or economic inequality.  

Chicago PACE, the City of Chicago's commercial real estate finance program for sustainable infrastructure, earned an honorable mention for its application, “Removing Obstacles to Reducing Carbon: Chicago PACE Makes $20.25 million First Impression.”  The honorable mention was based on the program's first completed deal and a recognition that while PACE policies are not new, the Chicago program has made an immediate impact by making "green" investments economically viable and equitably distributed without sacrifice to other civic programs. Chicago PACE recognized the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Counterpointe Sustainable Real Estate LLC, Loop Capital Markets, Illinois Finance Authority, and the many individuals working at each organization for their contributions to the implementation of the policy.

Now in its fourth year, the World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 26 winners, more than 200 finalists, and more than 500 honorable mentions—with Health and Wellness, Corporate Social Responsibility, and AI and Data among the most popular categories. A panel of eminent judges selected winners and finalists from entries across transportation, education, food, politics, technology, and other categories. The 2020 awards feature entries from across the globe, from Vancouver to Singapore to Tel Aviv. Chicago PACE received Honorable Mention in the "Politics & Policy" category. To read the full list of winners click here.

Illustrating how some of the world's most inventive entrepreneurs and companies are addressing grave global challenges, Fast Company’s May/June issue celebrates, among others, an electric engine for airplanes that eliminates emissions from flights—and expensive fuel from the tricky financial calculus of the airline industry; a solar-powered refrigerator that finally frees people in remote villages from daily treks to distant markets, transforming the economics of those households; an online marketplace that connects food companies with farms to buy ugly and surplus produce to fight waste; and an initiative to offset all of the carbon costs of shipping, creating a new model for e-commerce sustainability.  

“To receive recognition on a national level for what we have put in place for Chicago’s commercial real estate industry and community is a sign of the potential for PACE financing in one of the nation’s largest markets,” stated Jana Wesley, Managing Director of Chicago PACE. “We are honored to be listed and strive to deliver on the opportunity to contribute to the City's sustainability, economic development and recovery goals.” 

“There seems no better time to recognize organizations that are using their ingenuity, resources, and, in some cases, their scale to tackle society’s biggest problems,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists, under the leadership of senior editor Morgan Clendaniel, have uncovered some of the smartest and most inspiring projects of the year.”  

About the World Changing Ideas Awards: World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With a goal of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all. 

About Chicago PACE: Chicago PACE makes it possible for owners and developers of commercial properties to obtain low-cost, long-term financing for energy efficiency, sustainability and renewable energy infrastructure deployed in new or existing buildings. This City of Chicago program is based on legislation that classifies energy efficient and/or renewable upgrades as well as above-code new installations as a public benefit. These “green” infrastructure elements and associated soft costs (permitting, structural support, etc.) can be financed with no money down and then repaid as a benefit assessment on the property tax bill over a term that matches the useful life of improvements (often as long as 20-25 years). The program thus delivers a financial tool that facilitates the City's sustainability efforts while providing economic development opportunities by reducing capital costs and driving down operational expenses for existing properties and new projects.