5 lessons for going from LEED gold to platinum

When the 111 South Wacker building in downtown Chicago opened in 2005, it was one of the world’s greenest high-rise office buildings, earning LEED Gold certification for its core and shell, followed by LEED Gold certification for its operations and maintenance. But as the building approached its 10th year in business, its owners invested in upgrades needed to achieve LEED Platinum certification — the highest level available under the LEED system, according to the website Triple Pundit.

The return on investment of the upgrades to the building have meant even more upgrades to the daily life of its tenants and their businesses.

Here are five reasons to advance from LEED gold certification to LEED platinum:

  1. Differentiate the property to potential tenants. So many Class A high-rise office buildings have gold certification today that the designation doesn’t really stand out in tenants’ minds anymore. There are only a handful of LEED platinum office buildings in downtown Chicago.
  2. Elevate the building’s prestige. 111 South Wacker is arguably the most desirable office destination in Chicago, given its “corner-of-Main-and-Main” location, striking façade and range of amenities. Anything less than the highest level of green certification would fail to capture the same essence.
  3. Save energy. According to a study sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED platinum buildings use 40 percent less energy per square foot than the base building code requirement, while the average reduction for LEED gold buildings is closer to 30 percent. Since energy costs are typically passed on to tenants, efficiency improvement translates into lower occupancy costs.
  4. Recognize continuous improvement. LEED certification works on a point system for a range of environmentally-friendly features and management practices. When 111 South Wacker was certified in 2010, the achievable points fell into the 60 to 79 range of gold. By continuing to identify ways to operate more sustainably over the past five years, the building’s owners raised the achievable point score to more than 80 points, the range for platinum certification.
  5. Contribute to corporate social responsibility commitments. Many tenants seeking trophy building space are the same corporations that have set ambitious environmental sustainability goals for achievement by the year 2020. By locating in a green building with LEED platinum certification, tenants can make a stronger statement on their commitment to sustainability to their investors, employees and other key stakeholders.


Topics: Architectural Firms, Associations / Organizations, Building Owners and Managers, Construction Firms, Energy Saving Products, Engineering Firms, Multifamily / Multiunit Residential, Office Buildings, Sustainable Communities, Technology, Urban Planning and Design, USGBC

Companies: U.S. Green Building Council

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