Another Skyscraper Goes Green with $350 Million Retrofit
Written by: Ambika at buildaroo.com
Well it turns out the Sears Tower, the third largest building in the world and the tallest building in the United States, is following the trend by undergoing a similar retrofit. Why? The plan is to reduce electricity usage by 80% over five years, and water usage by 40%, certainly no small reduction in consumption. Sources said the Empire State Building retrofit added $20 million to the value of the building and increased rental income. We can only imagine the added value to the Sears Tower. But, there are some environmental motives here too. As Architect Adrian Smith says, "It [the Sears Tower] is a village in and of itself and "has a huge impact on society."
Indeed, buildings are a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions; among the largest contributors in the world. The Sears Tower, nearly double the size of the Empire State Building, will be saving the equivalent energy of 150,000 barrels of oil after the retrofit according to officials. With its existing green features and the new retrofit, the Sears Tower aims to achieve LEED Platinum - the highest designation of sustainability attainable under the LEED rating system.
Of course, none of this can happen without some serious green building. Here are a few of the features that will be implemented:
- Wind turbines on the tower's rooftops.
- Various green roofs to reduce storm water runoff, improve insulation, and help mitigate urban heat island effects.
- Solar panels.
- Replacement and glazing of the 16,000 single-pane windows.
- Upgrades to the boilers, equipping them with fuel cells that generate electricity, heat, and cooling.
- Upgrades to the tower's 104 elevators and 15 escalators, to cut electricity by 40%.
- Upgrades to restroom fixtures and water management systems, to conserve 24 million gallons of water.
- Installation of auto-dimming lighting that is based on the available natural light.
We at buildaroo love that some of the most impressive structures in the world are going green. But, we can't help but wonder, where does all the money come from? Current reports say that the Sears Tower retrofit is still exploring funding options, both private and public. For a project that is slated to begin the bulk of its building next spring, it seems a little late to be exploring the funding options. Furthermore, we expect quite a bit of energy to be expended on the remodel itself and more than just a few components that will need to be recycled after they've been replaced. But, the 4,000 jobs that will be created in the process are certainly welcome in our current economy.
The Sears Tower will be renamed the Willis Tower at the end of this summer, and when the retrofit is complete will be home to a public education center for redesign. What do you think about this retrofitting trend? Be sure to let us know in the comments!