Empire State Building becomes model for energy efficiency

The Empire State Building is being heralded as a standard for energy efficiency in commercial buildings after retrofits reduce energy consumption by 38%.

New York's iconic Empire State Building's astonishing architecture looks much the same as it did 81 years ago, but a recent retrofit will reduce its energy consumption by almost 38 percent. At nearly a century young, the building is setting an example for modern day efficiency.

Today, the Empire State Building Company, the building's current owners, announced that energy savings has exceeded expectations from when a run of retrofit projects was completed one year ago. A total of US$2.4 million was saved, and 4,000 metric tons of carbon was kept out of the atmosphere.

A ragtag coalition of environmental interest groups, a real estate services firm, and Johnson Controls partnered with Empire State Building Company, to complete the overhaul. Annual energy savings will expand to $4.4 million after the upgrades are complete, eliminating 105,000 metric tons of carbon emissions over the next 15 years.

"It is critical that we tackle the billions of square feet of inefficient office buildings around the world to meet our growing energy needs, save money, create jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Dave Myers, president of Johnson Controls, Building Efficiency, stated in a press release.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a consortium of companies focused on energy efficiency, says that buildings consume 40 percent of the energy used in the United States. That figure inflates to 75 percent in Manhattan's dense skyline.

Some of the upgrades included installing 6,500 new windows, modernizing its chilling plant, new building controls, and providing Internet-enabled energy management systems for tenants. LED lights will soon be installed atop the building.

"If every commercial building in New York City followed this blueprint, carbon emissions would be reduced by 4 million tons - the equivalent to that generated by a typical coal-fired power plant," the release stated.

Trade groups, including the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and ISO International, are investigating the need for national energy standards . The Obama administration has also made building efficiency a priority for jobs creation, establishing a public/private partnership program.

The White House announced a US$4 trillion energy efficiency plan dubbed the "Better Buildings Challenge" in December. It argues that the plan will help businesses and government buildings save on energy costs with the added benefit of creating over 100,000 green jobs.

(photo credit: newyorkpersonalinjuryattorneyblog.com)

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