Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Greening the skyline

By Mira Oberman  /  AFP, Chicago

“There’s no question we’ve identified enough opportunities to save 20 percent,” said John Schinter, AT&T’s executive director for energy.

All the improvements tested in Chicago will pay for themselves in three years or less, and most will be rolled out to the 1,000 corporate and 500 retail buildings that AT&T is targeting in its sustainability plan, Schinter said.

“If a project doesn’t have scalability for an enterprise as large as ours, we don’t spend much corporate time on it,” he said in an interview.

Jim Javillet is amazed at how attitudes have changed in the 43 years he’s been managing buildings like the AT&T tower.

“In the 60s and 70s they used to run (both) heating and cooling all year,” he recalled.

Another big advance came when buildings installed systems to turn most overhead lights off at a set time so they didn’t burn all night.

Now, even in the middle of the day, he can see who’s away from their desks by the dark spots in the room. And when he walks down an empty hall, he creates a tunnel of light.

These types of innovations are common in countries such as Spain and Japan, where energy is more costly and governments have been more aggressive in pushing energy efficient building codes.

But Americans are ready to accept change, said Dan Tishman, whose realty company owns the Sheraton Chicago and nine other major US hotels.

“Consumers in this country are comfortable with motion detectors on lights and other technologies that save energy, like low flush toilets or green roofs, and they appreciate it,” said Tishman, who is also chairman of the Natural Resources Defense Council and heads a leading construction firm.

“I do think that when we implement the changes we are planning, we will be successful and other large hotel properties will follow suit.”

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