On Earth Day 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Transit Authority announced the CTA’s West Loop headquarters at 567 W. Lake Street—already one of the “greenest” buildings in Chicago—has earned the highest-possible rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. It is one of only a few buildings in Chicago to achieve this elite status.

“CTA is an example of my administration’s efforts to embed sustainability throughout City government,” said Mayor Emanuel.  “We continue to look for ways to make sure our government is protecting our resources and seeking economic opportunity related to sustainability.”

This accomplishment is the latest CTA achievement to join the transit agency’s already green ensemble at its headquarters building at 567 W. Lake Street and is an example of how CTA is serving as a good environmental steward for the city of Chicago. CTA had previously been a LEED Gold certified building.

CTA achieved the LEED platinum status thanks to the efforts of its property manager Transwestern, a commercial real estate services firm that oversees the CTA headquarters facilities.

But it was the CTA workforce that helped CTA garner the maximum number of points because more than three quarters of CTA employees who work at the building use public transportation, a key element in the LEED category Sustainable Sites: Alternative Commuting Transportation.

 “Not only does this achievement boost the CTA into LEED Platinum status, it also demonstrates a high level of support for the agency’s central mission of promoting environmentally friendly practices, especially the use of public transportation,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “I am proud that our own workforce has helped us gain this recognition from the USGBC.”

Other efforts by Transwestern have helped the CTA conserve energy with well-designed building mechanical and lighting systems. A finely tuned building automation system controls operations and ensures that equipment works on an as needed basis.

In 2007, CTA’s headquarters was the first building in Illinois to be awarded a LEED Gold rating for an existing building. The building uses green-building standards such as a green roof, energy-efficient heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing fixtures that reduce water use, a comprehensive recycling program, environmentally friendly cleaning and pest control, an indoor air quality program and natural light in workspaces.

The LEED program contributes to the CTA bottom line by emphasizing efficient use of energy and water. The projected savings are a 28% reduction of water consumption, and building energy consumption is expected to be reduced by 10% a result of the improvements implemented at the headquarters building.

This kind of forward thinking has also attracted tenants such as the National Able Network, whose decision to lease office space was influenced in part by the building’s LEED status, and Province restaurant, which boasts one of the first LEED Gold certified interiors in the nation.

The CTA headquarters was awarded the platinum status under LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) version 2009 for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (O&M).

Buildings originally certified under LEED for Existing Buildings: O&M must file for recertification at least once every five years to maintain LEED status. CTA’s goal is to maintain LEED status by continuing to reduce its carbon footprint with innovative energy-management practices.