Industry Market Trends

Empire State Building Strikes Gold

Sep 23, 2011

New York's iconic Empire State Building has just undergone a green retrofit which has earned a LEED-Gold certification. The 102-story skyscraper, which was build 80 years ago, is expected to reduce energy use by more than $4.4 million annually, cut carbon emissions by 105,000 metric tons over a 15-year period and provide a payback in slightly more than three years.

Prime mover on the project, Anthony Malkin, whose Malkin Holdings supervises the Empire State Building Company, put together a sustainability team to back his commitment to make the Empire State Building one of the most energy efficient buildings in New York City and to have it serve as a model for other building retrofits. Team members included The Clinton Climate Initiative, who assembled a team of consultants in the fields of climate change, real estate sustainability, environmental design and energy services, and Jones Lang LaSalle, a global real estate services firm, charged with ensuring team collaboration in addition to performance measurement and documentation of the model for industry-wide use.

Other team members included the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit organization recognized as a leader in energy-efficient solutions; Johnson Controls Inc., a global industry leader on building energy efficiency and provider of equipment, controls and services for heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, refrigeration and security systems; and Empire State Building Operations to ensure that operations are not disrupted by the retrofit.

Among the many projects were the on-site refurbishing of 6,514 windows, in which 95% of the glass was re-used, and installation of reflective insulation behind the radiators to redirect heat inward. A retrofit of the chiller plant resulted in efficiency gains from .8 kW/Ton to .55 kW/Ton, and the building management system was upgraded to reduce both cooling and heating requirements.

The retrofit was part of a broader $550 million renovation of the 2.85 million-square-foot building, and the LEED-Gold certification applies to the entire structure as an existing building. A 3,500-square-foot area in the building has just received LEED-Platinum certification, which is the highest designation under the standard.