The Richard J Daley Center | U.S. Green Building Council
Please upgrade your browser. This site requires a newer version to work correctly. Read more

LEED O+M: Existing Buildings v3 - LEED 2009

The Richard J Daley Center

50 West Washington
Chicago, IL 60602
United States

LEED Silver 2012


Goals and motivations



Lessons learned


The below stakeholder perspectives address the following LEED credits:

WEp1, WEc4.1, EAc2.1, EAc2.2, EAc2.3, SSc4



Goals and motivations

What were the top overarching goals and objectives?

Orestes Ruffin

General Manager, MB Real Estate

  • Reduce energy consumption: As a City of Chicago Landmark building, the renovation of the Richard J. Daley Center had significant challenges, including restrictions on changes to the building envelope and lighting that impacted it’s “look”. The project also faced the more typical challenges from aging equipment and changes to use patterns.
  • Reduce water consumption: As of 2007, the public restrooms still had original 1965 plumbing fixtures. Given that more than 27,000 people visit the Daley Center every day, the building owners and staff saw that significant water savings would be realized if these fixtures were upgraded with modern water-efficient technology.
  • Show commitment to occupant and visitor health and safety: Maintaining a healthy and safe environment for both the full-time employees and the tens of thousands of visitors is a paramount priority to the Public Building Commission (PBC) and MB Real Estate.




What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?

Orestes Ruffin

General Manager, MB Real Estate

Associated credits WEp1, WEc4.1, EAc2.2, EAc2.3

Engaging an ESCO provider to implement energy and water efficiency upgrades

The PBC and MB Real Estate engaged an energy service company (ESCO) provider to help implement the energy and water efficiency upgrades. This led to increasing the building's ENERGY STAR score from a 69 to an 80 in 12 months. The choice to work with an ESCO was primarily motivated by the ESCO's ability to provide a "Guarantee Energy Performance Contract" (GEPC) that could be used to help secure third party funding for the energy efficiency and water conservation projects.

This funding strategy represented a decreased burden on tax payers by utilizing third party financing instead of public funds. However, in order to properly implement some of the recommended energy conservation measures, the ESCO relied on the PBC to finance fundamental upgrades. An example of a fundamental upgrade included replacing chiller motors prior to the installation of ESCO funded variable frequency drives.

Since 1994 and prior to engaging an ESCO, the Richard J. Daley Center (RJDC) staff have been actively working to implement low and no cost Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) as well as capital improvements.

Chart by Public Building Commission of Chicago

Figure 1: The Richard J. Daley Center has increased its Energy Star score from a 47 to an 82 in less than 5 years.

Between the ESCO GEPC and the RJDC staff's ongoing efforts, the following are examples of the energy and water conservation measures that have been identified since 1994:

Since 1994, the RJDC staff have been active in reducing water consumption at the Daley Center despite being challenged with maintenance and consumption of more than 670 lavatories, 120 urinals, and 680 water closets. The RJDC staff implemented a variety of conservation measures, including:

  • Switching urinals on the lower level of the building from timer-operated to motion sensor flush valves.
  • Installing high-water level alarms on the building automation system to monitor cooling tower and make-up water system overflow conditions.
  • Converting non-balanced makeup valves to balanced-control valves on cooling tower and make-up water system; previous OEM valves tended to malfunction due to high system pressures.
  • Converted 40 city water-cooled package units totaling 700 tons to a dedicated cooling tower system.

As of 2007 all restroom water consuming fixtures were original to the building and these 1960's fixtures were water wasters: the toilets consumed 5.0 gallons per flush and the urinals consumed 1.0 gallons per flush. In order to optimize water savings, the Daley Center team determined that an upgrade of the public restrooms would yield the largest return on investment because those facilities accommodate thousands of visitors per day. As part of the GEPC, the public restroom flush fixtures were replaced with 1.28 gallon per flush toilets and 0.5 gallon per flush urinals.

Chart by Public Building Commission of Chicago

The Richard J. Daley Center has reduced its water consumption by over 60% per year since 2007

Energy conservation measures that were implemented by the ESCO energy services provider:

  • Replaced late model T-8 fixtures with magnetic ballasts with more efficient T-8 fixtures with electronic ballasts.
  • Converted Air Handling Units (AHUs) serving office and courtroom spaces from a constant volume to variable air volume system.
  • Installed AHU chilled water coil isolation valves in order to isolate and drain the coils each winter.
  • Replaced the boilers' existing burners and installed boiler controls to increase the fuel source turn down ratio.
  • Installed VFDs on the chilled water pumps to upgrade the chilled water loop from constant volume to variable primary flow.
  • Upgraded chillers with new motors with variable frequency drives to improve the efficiency of their operation.
  • Ongoing optimization of the building automation and controls system.

Energy conservation measures implemented prior to and outside of the ESCO services agreement include an induction unit controls update. Since the building's opening, the perimeter fan systems operated along with the perimeter induction pumps in heating mode 24 hours a day when outdoor air temperatures were below 38oF. To conserve energy, the RJDC staff developed a no-cost energy conservation measure. Shutting down the three perimeter supply fans and three perimeter return fans from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. during the week, and only operated the fans from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays, turning them off on Sundays. To temper the air at the perimeter to offset the heat loss when the building was unoccupied, the RJDC staff initiated BAS programming to automatically raise the heating water temperature so the perimeter induction units would act as radiators rather than fan coils. Although this created a slight offset in temperature, it was easily regained at start up. This retrofit was a no-cost energy conservation measure. By changing run times and reprogramming the induction pumps, the Daley Center saved over an estimated 5,405,000 kWh and $540,000 in 2009.

Additionally, complete elevator upgrades included replacing the existing elevator generator motor sets with new DC Motor Drives.

Photo by Public Building Commission of Chicago

The Richard J. Daley Center lobby and lower concourse levels provide access to the Blue Line subway and the Chicago Pedway system, in addition to the court rooms and office areas within the building. Over 27,000 visitors access these spaces each day.

Lighting system modifications, included the following:

  • Converted to T-8 lamps/electronic ballasts throughout the building (except 2nd floor).
  • Installed lighting control systems for public corridors and lobby lighting.
  • Manually shutting off lobby lighting during sunny days.
  • Installed additional sub-meters for the electrical system to better understand building usage patterns.

Ongoing measurement and verification

A measurement and verification plan was developed for each water and energy conservation measures identified and implemented as part the ESCO contract.

The M&V methodology employed for the Project is consistent with the U.S. Department of Energy and International Performance Monitoring and Verification Protocol (IPMVP), Option A, Partially Measured Retrofit Isolation. Specifically, estimated savings for the project and each ECM were calculated using eQuest®, a commercially available third-party energy simulation program. As part of the Investment Grade Audit, the ESCO developed an eQUEST® simulation for the Building that included all of the building elements, lighting, and HVAC systems, and then calibrated the model to match the actual energy usage of the Site ("eQUEST Model").

Input data for calculating savings for the Project and each ECM in the eQUEST Model were supplemented by field measurements of the key performance parameters of systems impacted by each ECM. If these field measurements indicate that an ECM is not performing at certain specified minimum threshold efficiencies, the issue will be investigated and addressed with the building staff and ownership

Process water management

Condensate from chilled water coils is collected to feed make-up water for cooling towers and boilers. Condensate (distilled water) forms on the chilled water coils when the dew point of the air passing over the coils is more than temperature of the coils (~44F). This process is most commonly observed as water forming on the outside a cold drink on a hot day. During the hot and humid summer months in Chicago, moisture from outside fresh air condenses on the air handling unit cooling coils as part of the normal air conditioning process. In most buildings, the condensate water is collected in a coil condensate pan that drains into a domestic waste water system. However, at the Richard J. Daley Center, instead of allowing the clean water to be wasted, it is collected in a condensate collecting tank where it is then pumped to the cooling towers to be used as make-up water. The collected condensate supplements or entirely meets the cooling towers' make-up water needs, thereby reducing the amount of domestic water used by the system.

During the summer months in Chicago, the Richard J. Daley Center is able to collect between 5 - 70 gallons per minute of condensate water.


The Richard J. Daley Center participates in a closed loop program administered Recycling Services and Waste Management and purchases paper products from the same paper mill where the building's waste paper is recycled.

Healthy and Safe Environment

The Richard J. Daley Center is a hub of city and county municipal activity. Not only does the building house the offices of the Public Building Commission as well as the Sherriff's Offices, but it is also an active courthouse building with judge and clerk offices, courtrooms and jury rooms. Given the large volume of people who utilize the building throughout the course of the day, the RJDC staff is heavily committed to ensuring the health and safety of both the building occupants and visitors. Below lists some of the methods the building staff have implemented to achieve this goal:

  • Increasing the quantity of fresh air delivered to the occupied spaces for improved indoor air quality.
  • Using only no/low-VOC paints for all interior painting to limit occupant exposure to volatile organic compounds.
  • Implementing a green cleaning program to limit occupant exposure to chemicals and particulates.
  • Implementing a sustainable pest control plan to limit occupant exposure to unwanted pests as well as dangerous chemicals that may be used for pest control.
  • Implementing a sustainable site maintenance plan that includes sustainable snow removal strategies including the utilization of an effective, but non-corrosive ice-melt to prevent icy slips.




Aside from LEED certification, what do you consider key project successes?

Orestes Ruffin

General Manager, MB Real Estate

From 1994 through 2010 (prior to the implementation of the ESCO identified ECMs) the City of Chicago and Cook County, through the PBC, funded 29 energy conservation projects worth approximately $14,000,000.00 at the Richard J. Daley Center. These projects were implemented by MB Real Estate, a private company. This collaboration between the public and private sectors has created a history of cooperation for implementing energy savings measures that reduce operational expenses and environmental impact.

Additional key successes on the project include:

  • Having a collaborative and innovative team with a unified set of goals who were not satisfied with previous successes. From the consultant to owners to tenants to management to maintenance staff, everyone worked together to look for new ways to improve performance..
  • Implementation of an energy performance contract to further reduce energy consumption.
  • Combining projects that have both short- and long-term payback periods into one large project to create a favorable return on investment for all projects. Below is an example of three ECMs that were identified as part of the GEPC. These examples illustrate how low/no cost ECMs, when combined with larger retro-fit projects, can help to decrease the overall payback period for the entire energy efficiency effort.

ECM Examples Implementation Cost Annual Savings Simple Payback
Discharge Air Temperature Reset $0.00 $16,000.00 0 years
Econominzer Control Optimization $0.00 $17,500.00 0 years
Air handling unit conversion from constant volume to variable air volume $1,200,000.00 $69,000.00 17.2 years
Total $1,200,000.00 $102,500.00 11.7 years



Lessons Learned

Andre Wiggins

Assistant Property Manager, MB Real Estate

Associated credits SSc4

The Richard J. Daley Center achieved all 16 (15 for the credit, plus 1 for regional priority) points available for SSc4: Alternative Commuting Transportation by showing that over 92% of the building's full-time occupants use alternative transportation methods to commute to the building each day.

The survey was conducted in-person, on randomly selected occupants by a third party surveyor, Real Estate Planning Group (REPG). REPG determined the total number of occupants who needed to be surveyed by using the sample size calculation provided on Page 29 of the LEED O+M Reference Guide. The occupants surveyed were distributed evenly throughout the building, and provided a comprehensive sampling of the occupant population. REPG surveyors located themselves at each elevator bank to intercept building occupants as they entered the building to start their work day. The sample was determined to be a good representation of the whole, thereby statistically accounting for occupants not surveyed.

Photo by Public Building Commission of Chicago

The Picasso at The Daley Plaza was dedicated on August 15, 1967. The unnamed sculpture by Pablo Picasso was the first major public artwork commissioned for Downtown Chicago and is kept clean and pristine with baking soda, a natural cleaning agent.

To obtain a high response rate, the survey team used a highly effective incentive to motivate respondents to answer: a full-sized Snickers candy bar. Because of this sweet incentive, and also because the survey was conducted in person, REPG was able to obtain enough responses to achieve a 100% response rate of the random sample of full-time equivalents surveyed.


Edna Lorenz

LEED Administrator/Commissioning Agent, ESD

Associated credits EAc2.1, EAc2.2, EAc2.3

Delays in completion of the energy service company (ESCO) scope of work caused delays in starting the ongoing commissioning process, which in turn delayed the entire LEED submission. These delays were the result of schedule changes, common to renovation construction projects.

In the future, the RJDC staff will complete all large upgrades to building equipment and systems prior to the start of the LEED certification performance period.

While the Daley Center staff has made significant strides in reducing the building's energy consumption, the building has faced unique challenges due to it Chicago Landmark status. Because of this designation, the building must maintain the historic "look" of the exterior façade. The building's façade is comprised of single pane curtain wall with floor to ceiling glazing and no thermal break in the mullion framing which, when compared to modern façade constructions, has poor thermal performance and contributes to increased heating and cooling requirements. Because the street presence of the building cannot change, updating the glazing has proved to be difficult as well as prohibitively expensive. In addition to the exterior envelope, the interior of the building directly visible from the exterior is also protected by the landmark status. This distinction is important because the deck to deck height of the Richard J. Daley Center is 15 feet per floor (with a 12 foot ceiling height). A typical building has a deck to deck height of 12 - 13 feet (with a 9 foot ceiling height). Therefore, when compared to buildings with similar square footages but more typical deck to deck heights, the Richard J. Daley Center has approximately 20% more volume that requires conditioning. The volume of the conditioned space in the building could be reduced by lowering the height of the ceiling. However, reducing the height of the ceiling would change the look of the building from the exterior and would negate the building's landmark status.


What was the value of applying LEED to this project?

Paul Spiels

Owner, Public Building Commission

Applying LEED EB:O&M to the Richard J. Daley Center, the first building developed by the PBC, aligned with their mission of building and maintaining facilities that reflect the highest standards of environmental and economic sustainability.

Photo by Public Building Commission of Chicago

The Daley Plaza is home to a weekly farmer’s market in the summer, various festivals, and other civic gatherings throughout the year.

As a building funded by public dollars, it is important to demonstrate good stewardship of both public funds and the environment.

Lastly, the PBC and MB Real Estate found value in demonstrating that older buildings can be successfully managed and retrofitted to meet and exceed today's standards.


So, what do you think? Help us improve our new LEED project library by completing this short survey.

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on LinkedIn
  • Print
Project details
1,593,714 sf
Courthouse/Commercial Office/Public Assembly
Urban Core
21 May 2012
Walk Score®
97 - Walkers Paradise