Freedom Tower Largely Free From Wasteful Practices

World Trade Center Freedom Tower Construction

Image credit: Joe Woolhead
Courtesy of: Silverstein Properties
Taken: August 06, 2012

This image appears in the WTC Transportation Hub set in the Construction gallery

The rebuilding process of the World Trade Center buildings is sending a message loud and clear that even buildings of this size can be constructed with the goal of eco-conservatism in mind.


Rather symbolically, WTC 1, the Freedom Tower, has been planned to encompass quite a few sustainable features. Ditto for the buildings surrounding it – WTC’s 2, 3, and 4.

Some of the greener features of the Freedom Tower include renewable energy power sources such as wind power, low-emissivity glazing on its glass panels, a rainwater harvesting system, and space-age photovoltaics. Electricity costs in the Freedom Tower aren’t yet free, but boast a 35% reduction as compared to general surrounding Manhattan office buildings. Even in the excavation for the Freedom Tower, some of the bedrock was blasted through by the green builder Tishman Construction Corporation instead of removing it mechanically, saving time, fuel, noise pollution, and dust.



Not to be outdone, World Trade Center buildings 2, 3, and 4 each have their own “freeing” and sustainable features.

  • Ninety percent of all workspaces in these buildings will have outdoor views, giving employees access to natural daylight.
  • They will each contain high-efficiency plumbing designed to reduce water usage on the order of at least 30%.
  • 50% of the wood used in construction will be certified as sustainably harvested by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
  • There will even be preferred parking offered for fuel-efficient vehicles and extensive facilities for bicycle commuters.



One of the objectives in the rebuilding process of the World Trade Center is to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, a lofty goal with a very stringent set of guidelines.

From the USGBC website, LEED certification is explained:

“LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.”

LEED Gold certification requires a total score of 39-51 points among six categories that include:

  • Sustainable Sites
  • Water Efficiency
  • Energy and Atmosphere
  • Materials and Resources
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • and Innovation and Design Process.

Other well-known buildings that have attained LEED Gold Certification are the NBA Portland Trailblazer’s Rose Garden, the San Francisco Airport’s new Terminal 2, and NHL Hockey’s Pittsburgh Penguin’s Consol Energy Center. Under President Obama, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has mandated that all new federal buildings and major renovations must also meet the LEED Gold certification.

Some of the construction photos of the rebuilding process of the World Trade Center buildings can be seen on the WTC website.


Nedra Batey is a green activist, and sustainable products advocate, writing regularly for the natural latex manufacturer, Plushbeds.


If you don't have integrity, you have nothing. You can't buy it. You can have all the money in the world, but if you are not a moral and ethical person, you really have nothing.
Henry Kravis


  1. That is an amazing project, and more importantly a symbol that architects will be hard-pressed to ignore. 35% reduction in electricity is a big difference. I am sure two years from now we would be seeing 100%, at the rate technology is rushing forward.

    • Hi David
      I think the very name “Freedom Tower” encapsulates everything it is meant to be. Not only freedom from the perspective of global harmony and peace but also the feedom from reliance on the giant energy producers as the building harnesses the earths free energy and progressively moves towards that 100% free energy mark.

      Lots more can be done on this building… I was bit disappointed that only 50% of the wood used was from certified managed sources though. Why not 100%? I dont quite get that bit do you?

  2. Karen,

    It is quite odd that only half of the wood is certified as sustainably harvested. It leaves one wondering, is there not enough sustainably-harvested wood to go around, even for a project of this scale?

    • Hi Nedra
      I never even thought that we could be in a position to run out of wood from sustainable sources/managed forests. But I suppose it is a distinct possibility. However… surely then there is a good call for other materials like bamboo which is every bit as strong and durable as wood and which can grow much much faster? And bamboo can absorb co2 at an incredible rate too. I think it would take up less land due to it’s faster growth rates too. I am not saying totally replace wood but if it needs to be subsidised then the use of bamboo might be the answer.

      So… what could be their reasons for 50% of the wood being from either illegal sources or destruction of rainforests? Maybe some should or is already asking them questions?

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