File this under “Is you kiddin’ me?”

Sears Tower Could Be
Painted Silver

CHICAGO – The New York-based owners of Sears Tower want to know if adding silver will bring in some green. Sources said the owners are considering an expensive paint job, recladding the tower in silver. Since its opening in 1973, Chicago’s iconic tower and the nation’s tallest building has been adorned in classic black.

A brighter look could draw fresh attention to the tower, which has struggled to hold tenants against newer generations of office buildings. Silver could figure into a broader effort to “rebrand” the building and highlight its advances in energy efficiency.

The owners, who include New York investors Joseph Chetrit and Joseph Moinian, could seek what’s known as a silver LEED rating, bestowed by a group that promotes environmental advances in buildings. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating is third best after gold and platinum, but nonetheless an achievement for a building that’s 36 years old.

To improve the tower’s energy efficiency, the owners have been working with Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, specialists in both supertall buildings and environmental design. Smith, formerly of the firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill LLP that designed the tower, declined to talk about the project.

A spokesman for the owners said the Sears has a strong record of becoming more ecologically sustainable. “We are actively looking for even more ways to save energy and improve the building,” he said. “We are still examining our options and any details at this point would be speculative.”

Switching to a lighter tint to complement the silver could cost $50 million, “and right now there’s not enough money in the universe for that,” said a source familiar with the tower.

Long-term elements of the Sears work include plans to add a building, perhaps a hotel, next to it at Jackson and Wacker. The tower’s owners have been working with well-connected local partners, including U.S. Equities Realty Chairman Robert Wislow and the zoning law firm of Daley & George, to prepare its plans. Wislow couldn’t be reached Tuesday, and Daley & George partner Jack George declined to comment.

Silver? Really? Between corrupt politicians and the C(r)ook County economy firmly in the crapper, painting the Sears Tower silver and putting in a hotel may not be the smartest idea.

On the bright side, though, it would create jobs for construction and anyone brave/crazy enough to hop on a scaffold and paint that tower.