Willis Tower Earns EPA’s ENERGY STAR® Certification for Superior Energy Efficiency

February 6, 2018

Willis Tower, owned/managed by Equity Office, a portfolio company owned by Blackstone’s real estate funds, has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR certification, which signifies that the building performs in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency and meets strict energy efficiency performance levels set by the EPA.

The Willis Tower will be the largest office building ever to receive ENERGY STAR certification, and the third-largest building overall.

"Willis Tower, and our entire building operations and management team, is thrilled to accept EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification in recognition of our energy efficiency efforts,” said David Moore, Senior Vice President -Portfolio Director, Equity Office. "We are continually focused on improving energy efficiency and lowering operating costs, and this recognition, including being the largest office building ever to receive ENERGY STAR, is a testament to our team’s non-stop effort, hard work and innovations.”

Commercial buildings that earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification use an average of 35 percent less energy than typical buildings and also release 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Willis Tower improved its energy performance by managing energy strategically across the entire organization and by making cost-effective improvements to the building.  

“Improving the energy efficiency of our nation’s buildings is critical to protecting our environment,” said Jean Lupinacci, Chief of the ENERGY STAR Commercial & Industrial Branch. “From the boiler room to the board room, organizations are leading the way by making their buildings more efficient and earning EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification."

Willis Tower earned the ENERGY STAR for superior energy performance as a result of extensive infrastructure retrofits and active energy management practices. These include:

  • Retrofitting of HVAC, which included solar window filming, extensive repair of air infiltration points (including the replacement of all mechanical fan system dampers with high efficiency units), and new exterior air damper banks to better control air infiltration and allow for free cooling when climate conditions permit.
  • Adding motion sensors in all mechanical areas and some common areas, along with lighting control panels in tenant areas to help reduce lighting operation in areas not in use. Lighting was also retrofitted in building common areas, main lobbies, mechanical floors and elevator cabs with high efficient LED fixtures and lamps.
  • Building-wide upgrade of the building automation system (BAS/BMS) for more efficient temperature control, HVAC sequencing and energy monitoring to allow for demand response opportunities.
  • Replacement of antiquated Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) with new drives, and installation of new VFD drives on equipment that never had drives; all new drives communicate with the building’s BAS to help managers identify additional opportunities for energy conservation, while also receiving an immediate reduction in electrical usage.
  • The Building has modernized approximately half of the building’s chillers and retrofitted all cooling towers, resulting in significant energy savings.

EPA’s ENERGY STAR energy performance scale helps organizations assess how efficiently their buildings use energy relative to similar buildings nationwide. A building that scores a 75 or higher on EPA’s 1-100 scale may be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification. Commercial buildings that can earn the ENERGY STAR include offices, bank branches, data centers, financial centers, retail stores, courthouses, hospitals, hotels, K-12 schools, medical offices, supermarkets, dormitories, houses of worship, and warehouses.

ENERGY STAR was introduced by EPA in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Today, the ENERGY STAR label can be found on more than 65 different kinds of products, 1.4 million new homes, and 20,000 commercial buildings and industrial plants that meet strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the EPA. Over the past twenty years, American families and businesses have saved more than $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions with help from ENERGY STAR.

For more information about ENERGY STAR Certification for Commercial Buildings:  www.energystar.gov/labeledbuildings

About Equity Office

The Equity Office portfolio, encompassing approximately 47 million square feet of Class A office space throughout the U.S., is rich with signature properties in the nation’s leading gateway markets. The company focuses heavily on meeting the current trends and changing strategic needs of companies and our chosen markets. With an average tenure of over 25 years in the real estate industry, our regional leaders also head teams with deep experience across the board from investment and asset management, to property management, development and construction. As an affiliate of Blackstone, a pre-eminent global asset manager providing significant financial strength and long-term stability, we are extremely well capitalized. Please visit www.equityoffice.com for more information.

About Willis Tower

Standing 1,450 feet and 110 stories tall at 233 S. Wacker Drive, Willis Tower offers more than 4.5 million square feet of premiere office, retail and entertainment space. Debuted in September 1973 as the Sears Tower, today more than 100 prominent businesses call Willis Tower home, including financial services, law firms and insurance companies. America’s iconic skyscraper is centrally situated between the city’s financial and cultural hubs and the dynamic West Loop, home to some of the Windy City’s top shops and restaurants. Boasting spectacular Chicago and Lake Michigan views reaching nearly 50 miles on a clear day, the 103rd floor Skydeck Chicago is the highest observation deck in the United States. Featuring The Ledge, a first-of-its kind attraction that extends four glass viewing boxes beyond the structure itself to create an unforgettable viewing experience, Willis Tower attracts more than 1.6 million visitors per year. For more information, please visit willistower.com / theskydeck.com.