Nicor Gas and Southern Company Partner with Two Local Habitat for Humanity Affiliates to Build Energy Efficient, Net Zero Communities in Chicagoland

Smart Neighborhood™ concepts being planned for Aurora and Northern Fox Valley

Naperville, Ill. – Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022 – Today, Nicor Gas and Southern Company are announcing a new partnership with the Fox Valley and Northern Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity affiliates to develop Smart Neighborhood™ communities dedicated to providing affordable, net zero greenhouse gas emissions housing options in the Chicagoland area.

Two planned communities, one in Aurora and a second being developed in Northern Fox Valley, will total 30 single-family net zero emissions homes equipped with a combination of renewable, electric, and natural gas technologies. Eligible residents will enjoy freedom from expensive mortgages and benefit from using features such as energy efficient appliances that help reduce high energy bills; all while reducing their carbon footprint.

The Smart Neighborhood will be built along Jericho Road and Garden Avenue near the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks in Aurora. Also known as CARE communities (Carbon-neutral, Affordable, Resilient and Efficient), each Smart Neighborhood will come with high efficiency building envelopes, solar panels and battery solutions that will allow for further reliability in the event of storms or inclement weather. Groundbreaking for the Aurora development is expected to take place next spring. Work on the Northern Fox Valley development is slated for 2024.

“We’re only now at the beginning of imagining the potential within renewable technology and the resiliency of a net zero future,” said Wendell Dallas, president and CEO of Nicor Gas. “As we enter this fourth industrial revolution, we must be more than innovative but inclusive to ensure everyone is able to enjoy the cost savings and the satisfaction of knowing they are doing their part to ensure a clean energy future for their communities.”

Smart Neighborhood is a trademarked brand of Southern Company, the ultimate parent company of Nicor Gas. Smart Neighborhoods advance energy technologies that work together as a part of an affordable, reliable clean energy economy. They lead to job creation, diverse business partnerships, economic development, and green transportation. The Aurora community will be the first Smart Neighborhood to be built in Illinois and will launch a three-year research study to examine how natural gas can be part of the solution toward meeting net zero energy goals.

“At Habitat for Humanity, we are excited to work alongside Nicor Gas to create a pathway to strength, stability and independence through homeownership,” said Jeffrey Barrett, executive director and CEO of Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity. “This collaboration represents a unique opportunity to advance the adoption of net zero energy solutions, while making them available to individuals who ordinarily could not afford these environmental upgrades.”

As the largest natural gas provider in Illinois, Nicor Gas leads cutting-edge research and development focused on a resilient clean energy future every day. Nicor Gas is part of Southern Company Gas, a family of four natural gas distribution companies whose commitment to sustainability includes working towards net zero emissions from operations, while delivering quality customer solutions, enriching communities and investing in innovation.

Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit that brings people together to build homes, communities and hope, envisioning a world where everyone has a decent place to live. The housing organization works in communities across all 50 states.

For this project, Fox Valley and Northern Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity affiliates will serve as developer of the Smart Neighborhood Initiative. In addition, Habitat for Humanity will partner with local government officials on a broader Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative to conduct home repairs and build quality, affordable homes for those in need. Nicor Gas will support that initiative through its energy efficiency program.

To learn more about the Smart Neighborhood Initiative, please visit