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Green design added business risks to 7 WTC


Aside from its effect on the 7 World Trade Center's insurance programs, the tower's Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification also was part of the considerable financial risk that Silverstein Properties Inc. undertook in developing the tower, executives said.

Just as it had with the original 7 WTC in the 1980s, Silverstein built the new tower on speculation, wagering its $700 million construction cost on its marketing and leasing strategy for the “green” office space within.

Already facing the dual head winds of stagnant demand for commercial office space when the building opened in 2006 and lingering skittishness about locating at the site attacked by terrorists five years earlier, Silverstein's marketing and leasing strategies also needed to account for the New York market's relative unfamiliarity with the LEED program and its implications for commercial tenants.

“It certainly required a large amount of effort on our part, and on the part of the industry at large, to educate consumers on the benefits of sustainable design, and how those features can impact the quality of life in a building,” said Jeremy Moss, senior vp of leasing at Silverstein.

Propelled in part by its emphasis on the potential energy cost savings, employee wellness improvements and other benefits attributable to the kinds of environmentally friendly building materials and mechanics used in the tower's core and shell—as well as the opportunity those elements provide tenants to improve the environmental sustainability of their individual spaces—7 World Trade's occupancy rose to more than 60% in the first six months after the building opened.

Fittingly, the 741-foot-tall, 1.7 million square foot office tower reached full occupancy in September 2011, nearly 10 years to the day after the original tower's collapse.

“We felt that the best thing to do was to build the building, and show people what we meant (by LEED certification and sustainable office space),” said Dara McQuillan, senior vp of marketing and communications at Silverstein. “Once people understood what it meant, it became a huge advantage.”

PLUS: Read more about 7 WTC's green design.