Sears Tower Unveils Plans for a $350M Green Facelift and a 'Net-Zero' Hotel

Sears Tower Unveils Plans for a $350M Green Facelift and a 'Net-Zero' Hotel

The owners of Sears Tower plan to ratchet up the efficiency strategies at the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, cut electricity use by 80 percent and construct a net-zero energy luxury hotel next door.

Operators of the nearly 36-year-old, 110-story building say they have cut annual electricity consumption by 34 percent since 1989 and that increased energy efficiency has reduced annual CO2 emissions by 51 pounds since 1984.
Proposed renewables at Sears Tower. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Their five-year renovation plan is expected to bring base building electricity consumption down by 80 percent. The reduction is estimated to be equivalent to 68 million kilowatt hours or 150,000 barrels of oil a year. The retrofit project is also expected to slash annual water consumption by 24 million gallons. And the work is expected to create 3,600 jobs.

The improvements, detailed on the Sears Tower website, are to involve replacing and glazing the 16,000 single-pane windows; and upgrading boilers, elevators, escalators, lighting restroom fixtures and water management systems.
Sears Tower and hotel. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Wind turbines, solar panels to heat water for the building and green roofs are to be installed on various terraces and tiered roofs of the complex.

In a separate, privately funded project expected to last three to five years, property owners are proposing to build a 50-story, 500-room hotel that is to be energy neutral.

That building is to have a double-wall envelope and indoor and outdoor gardens. Renewable energy features are to include turbines in recessed areas of the building's exterior to catch the gusts that led to Chicago being nicknamed the Windy City.

The overhaul of Sears Tower, which is to be renamed Willis Tower later this summer, is the second renovation project launched this year of an iconic American building.

In April, the Empire State Building Company, efficiency solutions giant Johnson Controls Inc., commercial real estate services leader Jones Lang LaSalle, the Clinton Climate Initiative and the Rocky Mountain Institute, announced plans to green the Empire State Building.

The project partners for the Sears Tower renovation are 233 S. Wacker Drive, LLC, the real estate investment group that owns the tower; commercial real estate services firm U.S. Equities Asset Management, LLC; Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture; and the Illinois Environmental Council.

Sears Tower photo - Image CC licensed by Flickr user HAM guy.
Sears Tower renovation and hotel renderings - Courtesy of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.