Nicor Gas and Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity Break Ground on New Smart Neighborhood™ in Chicagoland

Net zero affordable neighborhood demonstrates the importance of natural gas in a sustainable future for all

NAPERVILLE, IL June 27, 2023Nicor Gas, Southern Company and Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity announced today the groundbreaking of a new community designed to be carbon-neutral and achieve net-zero in Aurora, Illinois. The largest natural gas distributor in the state is partnering with the Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity affiliate to offer new smart homes to first-time home buyers with an emphasis on resiliency and affordability.

Nicor Gas is part of Southern Company Gas, a family of four natural gas distribution companies whose commitment to sustainability includes working towards a goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions from operations while delivering quality customer solutions, enriching communitiesand investing in innovation.

This is Southern Company’s first Smart Neighborhood community to be led by a natural gas company and in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. The project will demonstrate the benefits of a smart building envelope with dual energy solutions to shine a spotlight on affordable,sustainable living.

“Nicor Gas has always been committed to giving back to our community, and this neighborhood is an extremely powerful symbol of that commitment. Through this project, we not only demonstrate the important role that we play in advancing Illinois’ clean energy goals, but we put on display how dual energy solutions can create affordable, sustainable solutions for customers,” said Meena Beyers, vice president of Community and Business Development at Nicor Gas. “Habitat for Humanity is a dream partner that shares the same values in providing first-time home buyers an affordable, resilient, sustainable future.”

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.

“Habitat for Humanity has led with the philosophy that home buying provides stability and resiliency to our first-time home buyers. In partnering with Nicor Gas on these neighborhoods designed to achieve net zero, we are further supporting our goals with smart energy solutions and technology that will empower our homeowners through energy bill affordability and tremendous resiliency during inclement weather,” said Jeffrey Barrett, CEO  and executive director of Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity.

The 17 homes in the Aurora development will be part of Nicor Gas’ Smart Neighborhood™, where each technology-enhanced home will be served with clean, safe, reliable and affordable natural gas service and supplemented by rooftop solar installations, high-efficiency building envelopes and in-home battery energy storage. These homes have been designed to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions, which refers to the balancing of greenhouse gas emissions, where the home saves more carbon dioxide emissions than consumers produce to power, heat and cool the home on an annual basis.

The homes will offer the following features:

  • Solar panels
  • Battery storage
  • Smart electric panel
  • Insulating concrete form walls
  • Spray foam
  • Energy efficient windows
  • Energy recovery ventilation unit
  • LED lighting


Federal funding for the neighborhood was secured by U.S. Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) of the 11
th District.

“In Congress, it has always been one of my top priorities to ensure the communities I represent receive their fair share of federal resources,” said U.S. Congressman Foster. “That’s why I was proud to secure $1.25 million in federal funding to provide the infrastructure for this Smart Neighborhood. Not only will this project help 17 families achieve the dream of home ownership, but it will also invest in the technologies that are integral to our clean energy future.”

The neighborhood in Aurora is one of two new smart neighborhoods being developed by Habitat for Humanity and Nicor Gas. The second one in Northern Fox Valley Northern Fox Valley is slated to break ground in late 2024. To learn more about the Nicor Gas Smart Neighborhood and the projects’ partners,visit ngsmartneighborhoods.com.

About Nicor Gas

Nicor Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Nicor Gas serves more than 2.3 million customers in a service territory that encompasses most of the northern third of Illinois, excluding the city of Chicago. For more information, visit nicorgas.com. 

About Southern Company Gas

Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.4 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with more than 600,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit southerncompanygas.com.

Individual Tickets

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First Look for Charity 2023 Tickets

Official Hotel

WHY NOT MAKE A SPECIAL EVENT EVEN MORE MOMENTOUS? THE CHICAGO AUTO SHOW HAS PARTNERED WITH THE HYATT REGENCY MCCORMICK PLACE TO OFFER AN EXCEPTIONAL RATE FOR GUESTS ATTENDING FIRST LOOK FOR CHARITY.

Hyatt Regency McCormick Place

The Chicago Auto Show is proud to announce its continued partnership with the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place as the official hotel for the 2023 Chicago Auto Show.

Just a 5-minute indoor walk from the McCormick Place show floor, experience modern guestrooms and sweeping views of the Chicago Skyline. Overnight guests of the hotel will receive a 15% discount at our multiple on-site food and beverage outlets.

The negotiated rate for First Look for Charity, scheduled for Friday, February 10 is $143*. Internet and health club/pool access is included with the price of the room.

Vehicle Giveaway

One highlight of the First Look for Charity is the vehicle giveaway. Over the years, lucky winners have driven off with the keys to 50 vehicles, including a Chevrolet Corvette and Dodge Viper. Any attendee who has purchased a ticket is eligible to win. However, the winner must be present at the time of the drawing.

This year, the giveaway vehicles are a 2023 Honda CR-V Touring Hybrid or a 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Sport. Winner must be present at the time of the drawing.

[1] A random drawing of ticket stubs for all attendees at the First Look for Charity Event with be made upon open stage during the course of the event. Vehicle(s) will be awarded at that time. If the owner of the winning ticket stub drawn fails to claim prize within a reasonable time, as determined solely by the Chicago Auto Trade Association, his right to the vehicle will be forfeited and an additional ticket stub will be drawn. The odds of winning depend upon the number of ticket stubs collected. Substitutions for the vehicle are not permitted; there are no cash award alternatives. Void where prohibited by law. Winner agrees to permit the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and/or the First Look for Charity Foundation to use his/her picture for future publicity and promotion without compensation. Winner further agrees to provide name, address and Social Security number to the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and/or the First Look for Charity Foundation, and to be responsible for any and all taxes, including Federal and State income taxes, state and local sales taxes or excise taxes, as applicable. Winner further acknowledges that he/she will be provided a Federal Form 1099 at year end indicating the full value of the prize awarded.