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An old building in Chicago is being gutted and rehabbed to run entirely on electricity – not natural gas.

The building is a former library on a street corner in Little Village, a largely Hispanic neighborhood.

“Having a building that is energy efficient and looks beautiful is not just for downtown, and it’s not just for wealthier neighborhoods. It could be right here, where we live and work too,” says Adrienne Lange of Latinos Progresando, the community-based nonprofit that owns the building and will use it for its headquarters.

When her group acquired the building from the city, the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems all needed to be replaced.

Rather than install new gas lines, the group opted to install a fully electric heat pump system.

“We were surprised to learn that the savings from not installing the gas lines nearly offset the cost of installing a fully electric system,” Lange says.

Because the system is electric, it can be powered by clean energy as more renewables are added to the grid.

Cutting carbon pollution from buildings helps reduce global warming and improve air quality.

“And so we saw our project as a way to make a positive impact, not just with the programming that will happen inside the building, but with the building itself,” Lange says.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media