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Just a quick diary to note a sign of increasing "mainstream" acceptance of the wisdom of going green.

The owners of the Sears Tower in Chicago are undertaking a major effort to reduce its energy use, and to add generating capability -- solar panels and wind turbines. Their goal is for the building to generate 100% of the power needs of a new hotel they plan to build next door.

Links and quotes after the jump.

From today's New York Times:

The Sears Tower, that bronze-black monument that forms the 110-story peak of the skyline here and stands as the tallest office building in the Western Hemisphere, will soon have another unique feature: wind turbines sprouting from its recessed rooftops high in the sky.

. . . the turbines are only the tip of the transformation. The plan, to begin immediately, aims to reduce electricity use in the tower by 80 percent over five years through upgrades in the glass exterior, internal lighting, heating, cooling and elevator systems — and its own green power generation. . . .

Buildings are among the world’s largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. After the retrofit, energy savings at the Sears Tower, which is to be renamed the Willis Tower this summer, would be equal to 150,000 barrels of oil a year, officials said. The savings are expected to help redeem some of the project’s cost, which is to be financed through private equity investment, grants, debt financing and government funds.

Note that the green improvements will NOT pay for themselves. The owners' goal is to recoup "some" of the costs, and they need grants and government funds to make it happen. That's an argument for government intervention in the power market, right there. Cap-and-trade, carbon tax, feed-in tariff, SOMETHING to make going green a paying proposition. We can't depend on grants and government money (tax hikes or yet more government debt) to get the average home or business owner to follow the Sears Tower's lead.

(Actually, I'd be quite happy to fund green upgrades as part of more short-term government stimulus spending. But long-term, we need to reduce government debt.)

More from today's Chicago Tribune:

The owners hope Sears Tower's green efforts, including solar panels and possibly wind turbines, would supply all the power needed for the 50-story, 500-room luxury hotel [to be built] at Wacker Drive and Jackson Boulevard.

Financed by private funds, the hotel would draw "net zero energy from the power grid," said John Huston of American Landmark Properties, representing the partnership that owns Sears Tower. He said the owners also were looking at public funding options.

One confusing part of the picture: they plan for the Sears Tower to generate 100% of net power needs for the hotel next door. And how much of the power for the Sears Tower itself? I can't tell from these two articles. And there's nothing about this on the Sears Tower website.

I have a lot of actual work to do today, so may not be able to respond promptly to comments.

Feel free to add diary tags if you think I've left off some good ones.

Originally posted to HeyMikey on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 05:14 AM PDT.

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