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Upgrading the Empire State Building: a success story for energy efficiency

© P.J. Kruczek

In 2009, the Empire State Building underwent a two-year retrofit of its 6,500 windows and upgraded its automated energy system. The glazed windows will reduce heating costs and the monitoring systems better measure CO2 and temperature in small sections of the tower. The contractors, Johnson Controls Incorporated, promised 20% greater energy efficiency over the next 15 years and an overall operation cost decrease of $4.4 million in the next three years.

A full year after works were completed, the retrofits have saved $2.41 million in energy and maintenance costs, 5% more than estimated by Johnson Controls. This is excellent news for the retrofit industry which Reuters reports “is forecast to become a $16 billion market by 2020.” Additionally, this project is one of the few which has publicly published data in a relatively new industry, which Malkin Holdings, owners of the ESB, hope will spur other buildings to undertake the same actions. The retrofits performed by Johnson Controls, while expensive ($20 million), are standard for a large, commercial building.

The retrofit industry hopes such examples will pave the way towards proper legislation, which would incentivize building owners to retrofit for efficiency gains. Malkin Holdings’ president, Tony Malkin, says “this is practice which can inform policy.” And what better way than through a symbol of American success?

Some legislation in this direction has already been passed in New York City. The Zone Green Initiative reduces the red tape involved for property owners to obtain the rights to upgrade their buildings and install sustainable energy platforms. This should spur home and business owners to adopt solar and wind energy as a power source instead of New York standard coal. Adding to this, it should reduce carbon dioxide emissions and help the city reach its overall goal of reducing environmental pollutants by 30% in the next 20 years. This is particular helpful in NYC as buildings count for 80% of the city's CO2 emissions, that is to say double the national average.
Additionally, this is the first time the city’s zoning ordinance has been changed since 1961.

Read here the full reports (sources):

"This Week in Clean Economy: NYC Takes the Red Tape Out of Building Green"
Published on InsideClimateNews.org by Maria Gallucci - May 4, 2012

"Empire State Building's energy savings beat plan"
Published on Reuters.com by Nick Zieminski - May 7, 2012

Published by: Robert YOUNGBLOOD / Translation English => French by: Sarah KHEDER

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