Sustainability Report: It’s not the tallest, but the former Sears Tower has a new title: LEED Platinum

December 20, 2019

(Chicago Tribune) It’s not quite the same as its previous distinction — the world’s tallest skyscraper — but Chicago’s Willis Tower has captured a new title: the largest U.S. building to achieve the highest level of energy efficiency.

Building owner EQ Office, the U.S. office arm of private-equity giant Blackstone Group, is scheduled to announce Wednesday that the 110-story skyscraper has achieved LEED Platinum certification. It is the highest designation for energy efficiency and sustainability under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines.

The 1,451-foot-tall tower achieved LEED Gold status in 2018. Efficiency was improved via upgrades to heating and cooling systems, hot water generators, lighting, plumbing and an ongoing overhaul of the elevator systems, according to EQ Office.

The building at 233 S. Wacker Drive opened as Sears Tower in 1973, and remained the world’s tallest skyscraper until 1996 and North America’s tallest until 2014.

Willis Tower is in the late stages of a $500 million expansion to create new retail and entertainment on lower floors. When the expansion is completed in 2020′s third quarter, the building will have about 4.5 million total square feet — including 3.5 million square feet of rentable offices and 300,000 square feet of retail.

Willis Tower’s upgrades are among several major investments happening in the southwest corner of downtown Chicago, including the recent opening of the redeveloped, 2.8 million-square-foot Old Post Office and the upcoming groundbreaking for the 50-story BMO Tower office building alongside Union Station.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Posted in: Sustainability

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