Lighter and More Sustainable: Zurich North America Headquarters


The 783,000-square-foot North American headquarters of Zurich Insurance is a showcase for sustainability in Greater Chicago. Composed of three primary “bars,” stacked and arranged to optimize daylighting and reduce energy consumption, the structure’s sustainable design includes multiple green roofs, energy-efficient technologies, rainwater harvesting and re-use, accommodations for electric vehicles and native landscape with 600 trees on 40 acres.

The enormous Zurich North America campus is the largest LEED Platinum® certified project of its designation in the United States, and the only LEED Platinum Core and Shell certified project in Illinois.  A spectacular addition to the Interstate 90 corridor, the headquarters features many sustainable construction materials that contributed to LEED® certification, including the NewCem® Slag Cement and True Lite Lightweight Aggregate™ used in the 59,000 cubic yards of high-performance concrete for the structure’s foundation, floors and parking garage.

The use of NewCem® Slag Cement and True Lite Lightweight Aggregate™, which are produced from blast-furnace slag (a reclaimed byproduct of the steel-making process), qualified the new headquarters facility for a LEED Material and Resources Recycled Content credit. Their use in the project also contributed to a LEED Regional Materials credit because they were produced and supplied within 500 miles of the project site.

Blended cements containing NewCem® Slag Cement have many properties that contribute to sustainable design—they produce stronger, longer-lasting concrete, reduce the consumption of nonrenewable raw materials, consume less energy, and turn byproducts from other industries into resources that would otherwise be disposed of in landfills.

Approximately 35 percent lighter than most natural aggregates, True Lite Lightweight Aggregate™ also supports sustainable construction by preserving non-renewable natural resources and conforms to the U.S. government’s environmentally preferable purchasing programs. It also offers excellent fire resistance, thermal insulating and sound-absorption capabilities, and helps reduce heating and air-conditioning costs.