111 S. Wacker Map
The John Buck Company
111 S. Wacker is a 53-story, 1.46 million sf speculative office tower completed in 2005 and was the first building ever to receive LEED for Core and Shell Gold certification. The project has won several awards and been the subject of varied media coverage. The building was sold earlier this year to a German investment fund, reportedly for a Chicago record-breaking $400/sf. Although the green building community would like to tout the building's greenness as contributing to this sales prices, Buck has stated they do not believe this is the case. Rather, the developer sees LEED certification here as a test case for future projects.
Like 1 S. Dearbon, this project demonstrates that the highest-qualiity commercial office buildings can easily earn LEED certification. The developer has made a point of stating that they did not go to any great ends, or significant added expense, to earn the certification. However, I believe this simply displays the wide disparity in the building market - there's a big difference in expectations for a retail strip mall or big box store and Class A+ downtown office space. To some extent, green building is about raising expectations for some of the smaller buildings at the bottom of the food chain (yes, there's more to it, but it's a start).
Notably, there are no real gee-whiz green features on this project; instead there are typical features such as green roofs, low-flow faucets and urinals, native plantings, recycled-content materials, and low-VOC paints and carpeting. Like any new office tower, the glass is energy-efficient and a reasonably efficient (but not exotic) mechanical system is used. Of course, also like most new office towers in downtown Chicago, irresponsible electric resistance heating is used (see 1 S. Dearbon for my rant).
The building's foundation reuses existing caissons from the USG building formerly on this site - to some extent this is a green feature because it does save large amounts of concrete. Obviously this is a major cost saver as well - building reuse is one place where being green usually contributes to the bottom line on day one. The tenant spaces have very large column-free spans, helping to maximize the potential for daylight and views (tenants still have to provide an appropriate interior design to take advantage of this).
Joe Cliggott of Goettsch Partners points out that one challenge of green high-rise projects is the rate at which green products are evolving - a project like this is more than 3 years in design and construction, and there are now many products available that weren't three years ago. In addition, the project does include a green roof at a very high elevation - many developers question Chicago's green roof requirements for projects of this height. Here, the design team did additional research to make sure the green roof could withstand the winds at this elevation. Considering that many plants selected for green roofs have alpine origins, it's reasonable to expect that with appropriate design, a survivable green roof is possible.