cutting energy costs Designing green buildings

This post was first published on the Tower Talk blog by PNC Financial Services Group. Tower Talk provides insights on the construction of The Tower at PNC Plaza and defines what it is to be the greenest SkyRiseSM in the world.

What is the carbon footprint of The Tower at PNC Plaza?

The design team of The Tower at PNC Plaza has wrestled with the same challenges as those of us trying to calculate our own carbon footprint. Sustainability experts could go into depth about how they came up with each of the assumptions and explain the spreadsheet data that supports their findings. Because the majority of people are interested in something more meaningful to everyday life, however, below are a few fun facts that put the tower’s impact into perspective.


Through a series of significant design improvements, including the use of natural ventilation, the design team expects the tower will use 50 percent less energy per year than a typical new office tower. This energy savings translates into:

  • Approximately 130,000 gallons of gasoline, the fuel needed for a Toyota Prius to travel around the earth 235 times each year; or
  • Approximately 108,000 gallons of fuel oil, enough oil to supply 200 homes each year; or
  • Approximately 1,650,000 pounds of coal, enough to fill 82 train cars each year.


Through the recycling of rainwater and the use of low-flow fixtures, among other green technology, the tower will use 80 percent less water than a typical new office tower. This water savings translates into:

  • The water needed to provide approximately 25,000 people with clean, fresh drinking water for an entire year; or
  • The water needed to fill approximately 45,000 bathtubs of water each year.

When you consider these annual savings over the lifespan of the building, it doesn’t take a scientist to understand the incredible impact that conscientious design choices can make. By creating the world’s greenest office tower, PNC is demonstrating how future development can do more with less.

Brad Pease AIA, LEED® AP BD+C is the leader of Paladino’s Signature Buildings Practice that guides owners to embed core organizational values around sustainability into their significant single building projects.

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