Energy Efficiency in Action: El Hogar del Niño Childcare Center in Pilsen/Little Village
In the early 1970s, while more and more households in the predominately Latino neighborhoods of Pilsen and Little Village became dual-income, local families struggled to find childcare. A devoted group of parents were inspired to establish the first bilingual and affordable childcare center in the area, El Hogar del Niño. More than forty years later, El Hogar is now an accredited childcare provider that serves more than 300 children every year.
El Hogar has added to its building space to accommodate a growing demand for childcare. But this growth has also contributed to increased energy and water demands and a very complex heating system for the building. So the center worked with Elevate Energy to identify cost-effective energy and water efficiency improvements.
We first conducted a building assessment, analyzing electricity, natural gas, and water use, including an in-depth furnace test of El Hogar’s complex heating system. We identified several improvements that will reduce the center’s energy and water costs, and are developing a plan that works within their budget and timeframe. To help offset some of the initial costs of the recommended improvements, we helped El Hogar apply for utility incentives and a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.
In addition, we identified several immediate measures that El Hogar can implement now, while continuing to incorporate energy efficiency into their long-term capital plans. For example, during the winter, pipes in the center’s back stairwell often froze, and many of the staff used space heaters to stay warm. We recommended low-cost operations and maintenance measures for the boiler system that will allow the system to operate more effectively. These immediate improvements not only save on natural gas, but also prevent the pipes from freezing and drastically cut electricity use by eliminating the need for space heaters.
Initial and future building improvements will cut El Hogar’s operating costs and make the building more comfortable, safer, and easier to manage. Minimizing utility costs allows the growing childcare center to focus more resources on their mission of preparing children and their families for a successful future.
For more on the improvements and savings at El Hogar del Niño, download and share this case study.
Do you know of a childcare center or nonprofit organization in Northern Illinois that would like to cut operating costs? We can help. Please get in touch with us at 855.372.8377 or Buildings@ElevateNP.org or visit our website to download an info sheet and apply.