Willis Tower

Chicago, IL


Willis Tower, located in Chicago, IL is a building consisting of mixed office space, restaurant, café, conference area, fitness center, and observation deck. It was originally constructed in 1973. In September 2018, the 4,483,315-square foot building was certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council utilizing the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance™ v2009 rating system.

Challenges and Solutions

Willis Tower utilized Rivion’s in-house commissioning team to perform an ASHRAE Level II audit for Existing Building Commissioning – Investigation and Analysis. As part of the ASHRAE Level II audit, Rivion created a breakdown of energy use in the building, performed a savings and cost analysis of all practical measures that meet the owner’s constraints and economic criteria, and discussion effects on operations and maintenance procedures. Existing Building Commissioning – Implementation was also pursued to implement all no- or low- cost items and to create a capital plan for major retrofits and upgrades.

A challenge faced during the certification project was garnering participation from all office tenants. Building ownership and the on-site management team implemented a tenant engagement program to account for occupant preferences. This program is likely to increase employee satisfaction with their working environment and encourage them to take interest in the building’s long-term sustainability goals.

The Willis Tower and Rivion teams helped educate tenants by holding tenant meetings to address the LEED process, some of the largest associated projects, and answer questions about how tenants would be affected, and how they were asked to participate. Electronic newsletters were distributed to update employees on the certification status, efforts being asked of the tenants, and to provide background information on the benefits of actions taking place. The electronic newsletters also provided information that employees could practice on a suite-level basis or in their own homes. By integrating updates into the existing newsletter, The 110, LEED and sustainability efforts were implemented as part of normal operating and communication procedures.

Rivion and the Willis Tower completed a LEED for Performance Path certification at the same time as the v2009 certification to help illustrate the differences between the paths for discussion at Greenbuild Chicago 2018.

Project Highlights

  • Achieved an ENERGY STAR® performance rating of 78.
  • Reduced indoor water use by over 30 percent from the IPC/UPC baseline in flow and flush fixtures.
  • $6,840 savings annually by resetting lighting schedules in two suites to match occupancy hours, rather than running 24/7.
  • Distributed a transportation survey to identify current modes of transportation utilized by building occupants, including conventional and alternative methods. Responses from building employees illustrated over a 71 percent reduction in conventional commute trips, with the highest number of commuters utilizing rail to work.
  • Building lamps purchased during the performance period had an average mercury picogram/lumen hr of 0 as all purchases were for LEDs. Picogram/lumen hr is a calculation of mercury content, lumen output, and lamp life hours.
  • Achieved exemplary performance in Indoor Environmental Quality Credit EQc3.3: Green Cleaning – Products and Materials. 69 percent of cleaning products purchased during the performance period met one or more of the sustainability criteria outlined for that material type.
  • Achieved exemplary performance in Sustainable Sites Credit 7.1: Heat Island Reduction – Nonroof. 100 percent of parking is under cover at the site.
  • Employs a sustainable purchasing policy that encourages purchasing of environmentally-preferable ongoing consumables, electronics, furniture, lamps, and construction materials.
  • Utlizes a high-performance green cleaning program that incorporates janitorial training in the hazards, use, maintenance, disposal and recycling of cleaning chemicals, dispensing equipment and packaging.

Value Added by Rivion

By guiding the on-site property management team through the certification, Rivion assisted the building in achieving third-party certified high-performance operations. The adoption and implementation of sustainable best practices, earned the property LEED Gold certification under the LEED for Existing Buildings: O&M™ rating system. These sustainable practices reduce the environmental impacts of the property as they relate to energy, water, carbon emissions, pollutants and indoor environmental quality. In addition to reducing operating costs for its clients, Rivion strives to create a healthier, more comfortable environment that increases productivity and reduces absenteeism.


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