Often times in a conversation it takes just one example to communicate a meaning of a word or concept. In the case of environmental sustainability such an example is the retrofit of the Sears Tower in Chicago. As detailed in today’s New York Times article, the Tower is “4.5 million square feet of office and retail space, 16,000 windows and 104 elevators.” Environmental sustainability is a crucial initiative in terms of buildings, especially existing buildings, because buildings are among the world’s largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. The good news is that retrofitting buildings to be environmentally sustainable makes sound business sense with the energy savings being “equal to 150,000 barrels of oil a year.” These savings are expected to help redeem some of the project’s cost, which is to be financed through private equity investment, grants, debt financing and government funds.
There are plans to open a first-floor center to educate the public about the redesign, and the developers offer the Towers as a model for other aging skyscrapers around the world.
Illustration by Rose Cassano, EarthSayers.tv, the voices of sustainability