Friday, October 23, 2009

$350 Million Willis Tower Green Retrofit

Chicago’s Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) will undergo a $350 million environmental retrofit starting in 2010 that will add wind turbines, solar panels, roof gardens and equipment replacements that should reduce energy use by as much as 80 percent. American Landmark Properties owns the 110-story building in partnership with New York-based investors Joseph Chetrit and Joseph Moinian. It is the world’s third tallest building.

All of the building’s 16,000 windows are being replaced, which alone could save up to 60 percent of heating energy. Energy-efficient mechanical and lighting systems are being installed, and the building’s 104 elevators and 15 escalators, along with its plumbing systems, are being modernized. Also planned is on-site renewable energy. Solar hot water panels would adorn the 90th-story roof, which is already carpeted with an experimental garden, and several varieties of roof-mounted wind turbines will be tested for their performance at those altitudes.

The retrofit was designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. The bulk of the work will begin next spring and is expected to complete in roughly five years. The project will create almost 4,000 jobs. The retrofits will save enough electricity to power a Chicago neighborhood of 2,500 homes for a year. Water conservation is projected at 24 million gallons annually. The owners want to earn LEED Platinum, the highest sustainability designation of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system. A Sustainable Technology Learning Center is planned to educate the more than 1 million visitors to the Willis Tower each year on ways to save energy and money. (CoStar Group, 6/28/09)

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