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CHICAGO-Easter Seals has recently received the distinction of becoming Willis Tower’s first tenant to achieve LEED certification. The nonprofit moved into the former Sears Tower late last year, after signing a lease in 2007 to move into 25,400 square feet on the iconic building’s 24th floor. In relocating to the tower from its previous location in 23,000 square feet at 230 W. Monroe St., where it had been based for 14 years, the organization prioritized the implementation of sustainable practices.

“We had two top priorities as we looked to move our headquarters operations,” Easter Seals COO Don Jackson says. “First, we wanted to assure that we were fully accessible for our staff and the people with disabilities we serve and, second, we were looking to do business in an environmentally friendly manner. It was the right thing to do.”

The firm achieved the LEED Silver rating for efforts including recycling during construction; designing the space to utilize natural light; and reusing doors, ceiling tiles, lighting, hardware, and furniture and furnishings from the old office. In developing its new space, Easter Seals worked with the SmithGroup on architecture and design, Environmental Design Services’ engineers and general contractor Clune Construction Co.

The building is around 85% occupied, with asking lease rates that range from $15 to $21 per square foot net. Built in 1973, the 110-story property is owned by 233 S. Wacker LLC, which includes American Landmark Properties, the Chetrit Group and the Moinian Group. Formerly known as the Sears Tower, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere was recently renamed to Willis Tower, for the insurance company which took occupancy of 140,000 square feet there over the summer.

Managed and leased by US Equities Asset Management LLC, the 3.8-million-square-foot tower at 233 S. Wacker announced in Junes plan for a large scale sustainable modernization project. The work will result in energy savings, reduced CO2 emissions and an 80% lower level of base building electricity use. The execution of the plans are expected to create more than 3,600 jobs and spur economic development in the surrounding West Loop submarket, where overall occupancy is around 87%, according to Transwestern’s Q3 office market report.

“We are proud that one of our tenants has achieved one of the highest levels of recognition for sustainable design and practices,” Bob Wislow, US Equities chairman, says. “U.S. Equities strives to implement green practices in all of its buildings, and tenants like Easter Seals serve as great example of what can be accomplished.”

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