Famous skyscrapers across the country are undergoing green renovations to increase energy efficiency, attract tenants and eventually save money. Like most industries, commercial real estate has been affected by the recession, with vacancy rates at office buildings nationwide reaching 12.4 percent at the beginning of this year.
Tenants heavily influenced building owners’ decision to go green. Green buildings offer tenants energy savings and other conveniences, and consequently many high-profile companies prefer to rent out space in green buildings, especially LEED-certified buildings. Although certified buildings typically charge higher leases, this year green-certified buildings had higher occupancy rates than other buildings with similar age, size and location.
The owners of the Empire State Building decided on a $120 million top-to-bottom renovation of the 78-year-old building. Renovations included insulating all 6,500 windows and upgrading the building’s lighting, cold water and ventilation systems. The building owners expect the renovations to save $4.4 million worth of energy each year.
In Chicago the Sears Tower will undergo a five-year, $350 million green renovation that will include solar panels, wind turbines and 35,000 square feet of sunlight-absorbing gardens on the building’s roof. The building’s property owners say the renovations should cut the tower’s electricity use by 80 percent and save 24 million gallons of water.
More about green buildings
• Skyscrapers aren’t the only buildings going green. Read about how schools across the U.S. are registering for LEED certification.
• The green building industry is on the rise! Find out which region of the country is experiencing the most growth.
• This solar-powered home in Northern California blends handmade and high-tech to make it resource-efficient. Check it out!
• Confused about green-building jargon? Here’s a quick guide to some commonly used lingo.