Willis Tower Achieves LEED Platinum

The property owner plans to wrap up $500 million in capital improvements to the country’s second-tallest office building early next year.
Willis Tower. Image courtesy of EQ Office

Chicago’s prominent Willis Tower has earned the LEED Platinum certification, one year after achieving certification at the Gold level. EQ Office’s building achieved the U.S Green Building Council’s highest LEED certification through enhancements made as part of a major, $500 million redevelopment of the iconic 110-story skyscraper.

The owner is nearing completion of the tower’s capital improvements. The Gensler-designed project, anticipated to wrap up next year, includes significant upgrades to the building’s heating and cooling systems, the replacement of electric water heaters with gas, the introduction of LED lights throughout the property and comprehensive water efficiency measures. In addition to decreasing the asset’s environmental footprint, the redevelopment will add 125,000 square feet of office amenities as well as a 300,000-square-foot retail area at the base.

Record-breaking sale

Interior rendering of Willis Tower’s retail base. Image courtesy of EQ Office

EQ Office acquired the 3.8 million-square-foot asset from American Landmark Properties in mid-2015 for $1.3 billion, the largest commercial acquisition in the city’s history, according to Yardi Matrix. Deutsche Bank provided slightly more than $1.3 billion in financing at the time of the sale, with some of the proceeds dedicated to major capital improvements, which began in 2017.

The 1,450-foot tower, completed in 1973, was the world’s tallest building for close to 25 years, before being overtaken by Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers in 1998. Sears enlisted Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to design the project, which broke ground in 1970. Sears exited the property in 1995. Today, the property’s largest tenant is United Airlines, which signed an agreement in March to extend its lease through 2033.