The white quartz Transamerica Pyramid Building in San Francisco, California
The white quartz Transamerica Pyramid Building in San Francisco, CA. Photo credit Anthony Ricci /

Profiles of three iconic American skyscrapers highlight the latest efforts to make buildings more energy efficient.

The Empire State Building in New York City is implementing a new sustainability plan that includes insulating windows, maximizing daylighting, and upgrading its chiller. Additionally, tenants will take on some of the responsibility for energy savings through sustainability incentives within lease agreements.

In San Francisco, the Transamerica Pyramid received LEED Gold certification in December 2009. An impressive achievement for any building, but the author points out the extraordinary fact that most of the qualifying practices were already in place as a result of California’s strict building codes mandating energy efficiency.

Chicago’s Willis (formerly Sears) Tower is also modernizing in the hopes of gaining LEED certification. Replacing the 16,000 old single-pane windows and adding a daylighting system are part of the plan, along with a proposed neighboring, net-zero-energy hotel.

Source: Greening the Urban Skyline, Metropolis, by Belinda Lanks & Kristi Cameron, June 2010

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