Iconic Willis Tower Becomes Largest Building in the U.S. to Earn LEED Platinum Certification

December 19, 2019

Willis Tower LEED Platinum Certified.

CHICAGO – December 19, 2019EQ Office (EQ), a U.S. office portfolio company wholly owned by Blackstone’s real estate funds, today announced that Willis Tower is now the largest building in the United States to earn the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s (“LEED”) Platinum designation. The Tower earned the prestigious Platinum designation under LEED’s latest v4.1 rating system, the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) strongest and boldest rating system to date. Willis Tower earned LEED Gold in 2018, and in less than a year, made significant energy, sustainability and comfort improvements to achieve the Platinum status.

“Willis Tower is in the middle of an exciting evolution, transitioning from an office building into a neighborhood that delivers the best experiences of life and work in Chicago,” said David Moore, Senior Vice President and Portfolio Director, EQ Office. “Our tenants and their employees are passionate about working in offices where sustainability is a priority, and we’re proud that our commitment to sustainability, which extends throughout our portfolio, has earned Willis Tower the prestigious LEED Platinum certification.”

Giovanni Cutaia, Blackstone Real Estate’s Global Head of Asset Management, added, “We are committed to driving greater sustainability by making the assets in our portfolio more energy efficient. The capital we are investing in Willis Tower will not only make it a better place to work and visit, but also better for the planet.”

“Transforming our buildings and communities to be more sustainable happens one project at a time, and Willis Tower has been a leader in showing how green design, construction and operations are not only good for the environment, but for tenants as well,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. “LEED was created to make the world a better place and revolutionize our buildings and communities by providing everyone access to healthy and green buildings. Willis Tower’s LEED Platinum certification is a prime example of how high-performing, sustainable spaces can create local solutions that contribute to making a global difference.”

In partnership with Rivion, a Wisconsin-based energy consulting firm, EQ improved the building’s environmental quality through a number of building enhancements, including:

  • Revamping the heating and cooling (HVAC) system through the installation of state-of-the-art technologies, allowing the Tower to heat and cool more efficiently, which is expected to reduce energy consumption by up to 20 percent.
  • Reducing heating water energy consumption by replacing electric hot-water generators with natural gas hot-water boilers.
  • Upgrading the building’s lighting control system and installing energy-efficient LED lights.
  • Installing low-flow high-efficiency sink faucets, toilets and urinals, which is expected to cut approximately 30 percent of the building’s water consumption (11 million gallons annually).

Willis Tower is currently undergoing a more than $500 million renovation, the biggest restorative transformation in the building’s 46-year history. The driving force behind the Tower’s transformation is Blackstone and EQ’s mission to create sustainable experiences and make smart choices that improve the space and environment around its properties. These values are noticeable in the Tower’s new 125,000 square feet of tenant-exclusive amenities, as well as the addition of Catalog, the 300,000 square foot retail, dining and entertainment experience at the base of Willis Tower and the soon-to-open 30,000 square foot outdoor deck and garden.

In addition to Willis Tower, EQ manages tens of millions of square feet of LEED and Energy Star Certified office properties across the country, including The Exchange Building (Seattle), which is LEED Platinum Certified; 350 N. Orleans St. (Chicago) and 1740 Broadway (New York City), which are LEED Gold Certified; and Griffin Towers (Santa Ana, CA), which is Energy Star Certified. Additionally, in the past year, EQ has established formal committees supporting key environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) initiatives and has implemented advanced technology across its portfolio to measure each building’s performance. For more information about EQ efforts, visit https://www.eqoffice.com/about/values.

LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world and provides a roadmap for designing, constructing and operating high-performing, green buildings, cities and communities. More than 2.6 million square feet of space certifies every day and there are more than 100,000 projects participating in LEED in more than 176 countries and territories. LEED provides an independent, third-party framework that project teams can apply to create healthy, highly-efficient and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement. The latest update to the rating system, LEED v4.1, was introduced in 2017 with a data-driven path to certification and recertification for buildings and interior spaces powered by Arc. Arc is a state-of-the-art digital performance platform that benchmarks, tracks and monitors sustainability performance. Through LEED certification, buildings are going above and beyond to ensure a space is constructed and operated to the highest levels of sustainability, enabling companies to not only reduce their environmental impact, but also provide people with a healthier, more comfortable space to live and work.

About EQ Office
EQ focuses on the experience of its 31 million square feet – how space feels, activates and performs to amplify the human experience. We're proud to work hand-in-hand with more than 1,500 customers of all sizes, from Fortune 100 companies to emerging startups, to bring humanity back to the work place. Our diverse team of 200+ professionals is responsible for creating inspired office environments in major cities across the country including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. As a U.S. office portfolio company wholly owned by Blackstone's real estate funds, we have the resources to lead the changes happening in work space. Explore your space for greatness at www.eqoffice.com.

About Willis Tower
Located at 233 S. Wacker Drive in the heart of downtown Chicago, Willis Tower is an urban destination and state-of-the art workplace that welcomes prominent businesses ranging from law firms to large airline corporations to insurance companies. Standing 1,450 feet and 110 stories tall, Willis Tower has the region's most breathtaking views of Chicago and Lake Michigan. Willis Tower's Skydeck attracts more than 1.7 million visitors each year with its inviting hospitality and memorable experiences. In early 2017, Blackstone and EQ Office announced plans for the biggest restorative transformation project in the building's 46-year history. The $500 million renovation project now underway includes the addition of Catalog, a more than 300,000 square-feet curated dining, entertainment and community experience, as well as a 30,000 square-feet outdoor deck and garden, evolving at the base of the tower. The Catalog name is a historical nod to Willis Tower’s original developer and owner, Sears Roebuck, and its popular printed catalog, which was a retail disrupter of its age. Catalog offers an effective way to experience great content, products and experiences. New tenants are now opening in Catalog, and this will continue through its completion in mid-2020. The Tower renovation also includes 150,000 square feet of new tenant amenity spaces. As part of the renovation, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded Willis Tower the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification for energy efficiency upgrades made throughout the Tower. Willis Tower was also recently named one of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s (CTBUH) 50 Most Influential Tall Buildings of the Last 50 Years and to the Illinois Council of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Illinois' 200 Great Places list. For more information, visit www.WillisTower.com and connect on Facebook and Instagram.