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Chicago Gets Greener With The Renovation Of 1221 North LaSalle

The exterior of 1221 North LaSalle St. in Chicago

Looking at the white-brick exterior of 1221 North LaSalle St. in Chicago’s Near North Side, it may seem like any other mixed-use building. But the property, now home to Chicago-based property management company The Building Group, recently underwent a renovation to improve its environmental efficiency. The repurposing of the mixed-use building, which includes apartments, commercial and retail, acts as a testing ground for Earth-friendly tactics that save money for clients.

“The new facility is our ‘innovation laboratory’ where we explore ways to reduce the overall carbon footprint as well as the operating costs of a building,” The Building Group President Jim Stoller said.

The Building Group manages over $1B in real estate along Chicago’s lakefront neighborhoods, and the new office is more centrally located to serve its portfolio of luxury condominium, cooperative, rental and mixed-use properties. The company’s interest in sustainable practices comes as more Chicago landlords look to improve energy efficiency across their assets. The Windy City has the highest percentage of LEED- and Energy Star-certified office buildings in the U.S., and in 2016, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Illinois as the 13th most energy-efficient state.

The city government also offers incentives for retrofitting older properties with green technology like HVAC systems. It is part of the city’s plan to reduce citywide carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. More than 70% of Chicago’s emissions come from building energy use.

When The Building Group originally purchased 1221 North LaSalle Drive, the red-brick Colonial was a single-purpose building, the former home of Andy Frain Services and later LifeSource’s downtown office. The building had been gutted by the prior owner in preparation for construction for a single user and then the deal never materialized, Stoller said. Now, the top floor has luxury loft apartments while the second floor hosts The Building Group’s new corporate offices and Trifactive Premium Sports Injury and Pain Clinic.

On the first floor, fitness concept Runner’s High Studio opened Chicago’s first indoor running studio.

These businesses have all taken advantage of the property’s green makeover. The interior has all LED lighting and volatile organic compound-free paints. An indoor bike rack encourages healthier and emissions-free commuting, and the janitorial service uses eco-friendly cleaning supplies.

The open floor plan at The Building Group's office at 1221 North LaSalle St.

Smart technology also plays a role in improving energy efficiency. For example, rather than a single temperature for an entire office, there are multiple zones for heating and cooling, resulting in more targeted temperature control. Instead of traditional carpeting, carpet tiles can be replaced individually if stained or damaged.

Stoller also had dual-flush toilets installed throughout the building. In areas serviced by new sewer lines, the toilets worked well. But in places with older plumbing, the pressure was too low and the dual-flush toilets had to be replaced with high-pressure ones.

“Lowering our environmental impact takes many forms and doesn’t necessarily mean installing windmills,” Stoller said. “It means being smart about resources.”

Those resources include staff members. Understanding that people have different work styles and needs, the redesign includes a combination of private offices with doors, open-plan workspaces and conference rooms.

An open house party at The Building Group's office at 1221 North LaSalle St.

The sustainable techniques used at 1221 North LaSalle can be applied to the rest of The Building Group’s portfolio and to its client services. From paperless communication between tenants and landlords to rooftop gardens that absorb stormwater runoff, property owners have an ever-growing toolbox of sustainable techniques that not only lower costs but also improve tenant well-being.

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and The Building Group. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.