Top LEED-Certified Office Buildings in Illinois

8 min read

The 10 largest properties in this leading green state that earned LEED Gold last year.

Image by jplenio via Pixabay

Illinois has been on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Top 10 States for LEED-certified space list every year since the agency began keeping track of the number of buildings that earn LEED certifications. The year 2021 was no exception—overall, the Prairie State occupied the leading position with nearly 3.2 certified gross square feet per capita. Specific to the office segment, the state also fared very well and ranked second by volume of office space certified at LEED level, with 30.5 million square feet awarded a LEED designation.

Chicago is the state’s hub in terms of attention to sustainability, boasting targeted energy efficiency investments and its 2022 Climate Action Plan that includes carbon emissions reduction, while increasing household savings, advancing environmental justice and improving community health. It’s no wonder that all 10 LEED-certified office buildings in this ranking are located in Chicago.

READ ALSO: Top 10 States for LEED-Certified Office Properties in 2021

The focus on the environmentally friendly office space has become more prominent in the development industry, and this importance originates from office tenants who seek it or the equity investors who demand it. A recent study led by Cushman & Wakefield shows that LEED-certified buildings lease up faster, generate a rent premium and trade at higher values than non-certified office buildings in the same class.

The properties featured in this list are all 2021 LEED Gold recipients, which we ranked by square footage, from highest to lowest, as sent by the USGBC. Last year in Illinois, there were two office properties that earned the highest level of recognition from the USGBC—one located in Chicago and the other in Roselle, Ill., however, these didn’t make the list due to their smaller sizes.

Rank Project Name Project Address Gross Area Square Footage Rating System Certification Date
1 Prudential Plaza 180 N. Stetson 3,021,067.00 LEED-EB:OM v2009 2/18/2021
2 The Franklin 227 W. Monroe St. 2,960,441.00 LEED-EB:OM v2009 11/24/2021
3 CME Center 10 S. Wacker Drive 2,662,457.00 LEED-EB:OM v2009 12/17/2021
4 Old Main Post Office 404 W. Harrison St. 2,454,615.13 LEED-CS v2009 12/15/2021
5 110 North Wacker 110 N. Wacker Drive 1,574,549.00 LEED-CS v2009 7/14/2021
6 161 North Clark 161 N. Clark St. 1,200,836.00 LEED-EB:OM v2009 6/24/2021
7 One North Dearborn 1 N. Dearborn 1,046,276.00 LEED-EB:OM v2009 10/18/2021
8 525 West Monroe 525 W. Monroe St. 1,028,492.00 LEED-EB:OM v2009 11/11/2021
9 55 West Monroe 55 W. Monroe St. 895,765.00 LEED-EB:OM v2009 5/11/2021
10 190 South LaSalle 190 S. LaSalle St. 882,560.00 LEED v4 O+M: EB 3/8/2021

1. Prudential Plaza

Prudential Plaza

Consisting of two towers, for a combined 3 million square feet, Prudential Plaza received the Gold recertification for Operation and Maintenance in February 2021, with a scorecard of 62 points. The two-building development holds another LEED Gold award from 2016. Last year, the property also received the WELL Health-Safety Rating, which assesses and verifies a commercial property’s operations in relation to virus transmission and a safe return to office.

According to CommercialEdge data, since 2018, the two towers have been owned by Sterling Bay. The assets are located across the 319-acre Grant Park, which offers several walking paths, sporting fields and gardens, as well as the city’s most-revered cultural attractions, such as Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, Maggie Daley Park, Buckingham Fountain and Museum Campus. Notable tenants at the property include Prudential Capital Group, Chicago Tribune, Clark Hill, Leydig and Regus.

The two interconnected buildings were recently renovated and feature abundant natural light, a charge point station for electric vehicles and a complex recycling program that includes electronics. The property supports the Chicago farmers market, which delivers fresh food packages from farms within 250 miles of Chicago.

2. The Franklin

The Franklin

Nearly 3 million square feet of space at Tishman Speyer’s 60-story asset at 227 W. Monroe St. have been LEED recertified, improving it from Silver (received in 2016) to the Gold level in November, for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance, with a scorecard of 64 points.

The 1989-built tower has been renovated, and had technologies implemented to reduce energy consumption, such as improved lighting and controls in the base building and tenant spaces. The building’s mechanical systems have also been updated to include VFDs and optimized controls.

Notable tenants include Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, FTI Consulting and Murphy Real Estate Services.

3. CME Center

CME Center

Located on the famous Wacker Drive—at 30 S. Wacker Drive—the CME Center recertified in December its LEED Gold award for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance, with a scorecard of 69 points. Previously, the project held another LEED Gold certification, awarded in 2016.

The two-tower office complex was built in 1983 and spans nearly 2.7 million square feet. Since 2007, the CME Center has been under Tishman Speyer’s umbrella. One of the strategies the owner applied—via risk assessment led by ESD—was the replacement of the original chillers with chillers using R-514A refrigerant. This change equated to removing 4,200 cars from the road per year.

Notable tenants include Regus, Wells Fargo, Lendlease and Waterton.

4. Old Main Post Office

Old Main Post Office

The development at 404 W. Harrison St. maintained its LEED Gold certification—awarded in December with a scorecard of 72 points—with the previous Gold designated in March 2020 for Core and Shell.

The history of the 2.5 million-square-foot property began in 1921, bearing the design of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, and includes a long period of neglect that ended in 2016, when The 601W Cos. acquired it and began work on its transformation. Among other improvements, the historic building has been updated with 2,400 energy-efficient, insulating windows, which transmit 70 percent of available visible light while blocking 62 percent of the sun’s heat. In addition, the building also has a 3.5-acre rooftop deck.

Notable tenants at the property include Uber, Walgreens, PepsiCo. and Cisco.

5.  110 North Wacker

110 N. Wacker Drive. Image via Google

The property is a redevelopment project that managed to salvage and repurpose existing stainless steel panels from the previous building. In addition, nearly 20,000 tons—the equivalent of 90 percent of construction waste—was diverted for recycling and reuse. Forest Stewardship Council certified wood, regionally manufactured and recycled materials were used in construction. The development achieved a significant reduction in water usage, saving 4.7 million gallons of water annually from water-conserving amenities and appliances, in addition to plumbing fixtures that use 37 percent less water than the national standard.

The building has achieved 18.2 percent energy cost savings by installing individual submeters for each tenant, in addition to the use of energy-saving HVAC equipment and energy-efficient lighting in the base building and tenant spaces. Through these strategies, the property is anticipated to lower emissions by 53 percent compared to a median building.

Notable tenants include Bank of America, Perkins and Heitman.

6. 161 North Clark Street

161 N. Clark St.

Also known as Grant Thornton Tower, the 1.2 million-square-foot, 50-story tower received its LEED Gold recertification in June, with a scorecard of 60 points. Previously, the property was awarded another LEED Gold designation in 2015.

Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and completed in 1992, the tower has been part of CBRE Investment Management’s portfolio since 2013. The transit-oriented development has a direct passage via an underground, heated pedestrian walkway to City Hall, The Daley Center and The Thompson Center.

Notable tenants include Accenture, Bryan Cave, Grant Thornton, Business Wire and Pedersen & Houpt.

7. One North Dearborn

One North Dearborn

Centrally located in the Loop district, the 1 million-square-foot property received its LEED recertification in October, with a scorecard of 74 points. In 2020, the 17-story high-rise also received The Outstanding Building of the Year award in the renovated building category.

Behind the designations stands Beacon Capital Partners’ recent renovation, which managed to pair modern conveniences with the landmark property’s historical attributes. Specifically, tenant amenities were upgraded, the building’s entry and lobby have been redesigned, and the property’s infrastructure has been extensively revamped with enhanced energy efficiency and building operations. Among the renovated amenities was the rooftop terrace and lounge, which offers expansive views of Lake Michigan and Millennium Park and a mural that reminisces the building’s original tenant, the Boston Co. Department Store. Moreover, the rooftop space was dedicated to an organic garden and a honeybee program.

Tenants at the property include the Chicago Board of Education, Old Mission and Truven Health Analytics.

8. 525 West Monroe

525 W. Monroe St.

The 25-story building that stands out due to its dark blue color received its recertification to the Gold level in November with a scorecard of 70 points and, in 2021, it marked the ninth year of Energy Star certification with a scorecard of 81 points. Previously, the property held another LEED Gold award that was issued in 2016.

Owned by Tishman Speyer, the 1 million-square-foot asset built in 1983 is strategically located in the transit-oriented West Loop. Notable tenants include the Associated Bank, Axiomatics, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and LinkedIn.

9. 55 West Monroe

55 W. Monroe St.

In May, the 900,000-square-foot building was awarded a LEED Gold recertification for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance, with a scorecard of 64 points. The previous LEED Gold certification dates back to 2015.

Manulife Investment Management‘s 40-story building located in Chicago’s Downtown Loop is also a BOMA 360 designated building and in early 2022 was awarded a Fitwel 1 Star certification and a Fitwel Viral Response certification. The latter designation stems from the building’s commitment to promoting occupant health and well-being.

Notable tenants include Berliner Group, Green Key Technologies, Altus Group and Draper & Kramer Mortgage.

10. 190 South LaSalle

190 South LaSalle

Beacon Capital Partners’ 883,000-square-foot property received its LEED Gold recertification in March for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance, with a scorecard of 63 points. That the same year, it received a Fitwel certification, as well as an Energy Star certification.

The 40-floor building is located in the financial heart of Chicago with easy access to suburban trains and CTA bus and train lines and was completed in 1986, bearing the design of Philip Johnson and John Burgee.

Tenants at the property include Duane Morris, Bain & Co., Magna Legal Services and D’Orazio Capital.

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