Willis Tower Gets Solar Windows For Energy

The building formerly known as the Sears Tower–a.k.a., Willis Tower–is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and as such, soaks up a lot of Chicago sunshine. Now, a new partnership between the building’s owners and Pythagorus Solar will put the building on track to generate renewable energy via its many windows.

Pythagorus was chosen as part of a pilot project deployed in November last year on the south facing windows of the Willis Tower’s 56th floor, which uses a building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) solution to generate electricity which is then used by the building. The pilot project seeks to help the Tower generate renewable energy on-site through building modifications that support the local green economy.

Willis Tower

image via Wikipedia Commons

So far, solar glass has been a pricey commodity–but economies of scale are quickly working to drive the numbers down into the price range of more building budgets everywhere. Additionally, Pythagorus Solar reports that leveraging mass-scale solar power window installations has had a direct impact on the company improving the energy efficiency and energy generation potential of a building’s exterior envelope via its windows.  Its product can be grouped to produce as much as two megawatts of energy.

The Willis Tower solar glass pilot project is meant to illustrate one possible best practice for how to decrease the impact of the built environment on climate change, with an eye towards providing a replicable model for other commercial buildings.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.