A Greener Empire State Building

Owners of the Empire State Building announced that the iconic landmark will undergo retrofitting to reduce its energy use by 38 percent a year by 2013. The annual savings is projected at $4.4 million.
While upfront costs often deter owners from retrofitting older buildings, the energy savings for the Empire State building, built in 1931, are expected to pay back initial costs in only three years.

According to an article in The New York Times, people involved in the retrofit want to offer an example of how older buildings can have the highest energy standards and effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The largest share of New York City's greenhouse gas emissions, 78 percent, comes from the city's buildings, with commercial buildings contributing 25 percent.

The retrofit plan aims to cut down the pollution the building produces by 105,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year. Most of the energy used in the Empire State Building goes toward lighting, cooling and heating. The retrofit consists of eight different projects, including upgrades to the ventilation and electrical systems and installation of sophisticated electronic instrumentation.

Tenants will also become involved by monitoring their own energy use through a Web-based dashboard accessible from their computers.

The retrofit company aims to achieve platinum certification and expects the building to fall in the top 10 percent of Energy Star office buildings when renovation is complete.

Unfortunately, the building supervisors say that a greener building might mean higher rent because of its desirability. If the building owners really want to make an example, however, they would demonstrate that retrofits are economical and can be done without adding monetary stress on its tenants.

To read the original article in The New York Times, click here.