It should come as no surprise that during rough economic times commercial building vacancy rates rise. As companies are forced to pare back or even halt operations, offices across the company are closed down. Building owners hoping to attract new tenants, and even keep existing tenants, are finding that they need to commit to green upgrades.

MNN has already reported about two well-known commercial buildings that have already begun their green renovations. The Empire State Building in New York City is in the middle of a $500 million energy efficiency makeover. Reducing energy costs are one way that companies can cut back on their expenses and meet their corporate sustainability goals.

In addition to the energy efficient retrofit of the building, the owners are also working with tenants on LEED certification. An article on the USA Today website describes one LEED project underway in the Empire State Building – Skanska, a Swedish construction company.

“Skanska wanted its U.S. headquarters to have a LEED "platinum" certification — reserved for only the most efficient of buildings — and it found a willing partner in the Empire State Building. Skanska officials said the building's management helped them install bike racks and add other energy-saving details on the 32nd floor.”  Source: USA Today

Yes, you heard that right, bike racks on the 32nd floor. I’ve been to the Empire State Building and although I’m sure that the area around the building has changed a bit during the past decade, I don’t see there being a lot of room for bike racks outside of the building. So up the elevator the bikes will go.

The Skanska project is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council as a LEED for Commercial Interiors project under the LEED CI 2.0 checklist. Skanska already has three LEED certifications under its belt. Locations in Seattle, Wash., Atlanta, Ga., and Orlando, Fla., have received LEED Gold certification.

The Sears Tower green renovation was also discussed in the USA Today article. In March, I initially blogged about the plans to retrofit the one-time tallest building in the world. At that time, specific information about the green upgrades was not available. However, details were finally released just a few weeks ago.

The iconic antennas at the top of the building will be getting a few neighbors – wind turbines, roof gardens and solar panels are planned for the top of the Sears Tower as part of a $350 million eco-renovation. Wind turbines in the windy city, what a great idea!

As more companies begin to commit to sustainability, the demand for green office space will only rise. Depending on the size of the project, green building retrofits can take years to complete so wise building owners are getting started on these renovations sooner vs. later.

Photo: Pat Hawks

Also on MNN.com:

Commercial building and the environment

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.