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NYC's Empire State Building Takes Energy-Efficiency to New Heights

Credit: David Goodman, Empire State Building on Facebook

The iconic Empire State Building in New York City is pointing the way toward energy efficiency. Since the building started a comprehensive retrofit in 2009, it has been consistently racking up savings every year. Currently the retrofit is projected to save 38% of the building’s energy and $4.4 million annually, according to the building’s ownership.

The building ownership worked on several major retrofit projects with a team that included the Clinton Climate Initiative, Johnson Controls, JLL, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and Rocky Mountain Institute.

One of several substantial retrofit projects installed more than 6,000 insulated reflective barriers behind radiator units on the building’s perimeter. A lighting retrofit reduced lighting power density in tenant spaces using ambient as well as task lighting. Dimmable ballasts, photosensors, and plug load occupancy sensors for personal workstations were added as well.

The building’s control systems were also upgraded, which included controls for the refrigeration plant building management system; condenser water system upgrades; chiller water air handling; DX air handling units; exhaust fans; stand alone chiller monitoring; various room temperature sensors; and electrical service monitoring.

There was a chiller plant retrofit, a new air handling layout, and a window project that involved upgrading the existing insulated glass within the building’s roughly 6,500 double-hung windows to include suspended coated film and gas fill, according to the building’s online description.

A tenant energy management project provided tenants with access to online energy and benchmarking information. “A EnNET/AEM platform will be provided for collecting 15-minute meter data and creating a normalized database that can be used to support Time Series profiling, reporting to ISO, and integration in the future with property management software for creating a bill based on current meter read,” the building’s project site says.

In August 2014, the Empire State Building reported that it had surpassed guaranteed energy savings for a third consecutive year, generating a total of approximately $7.5 million in energy savings during that span.

“Five years into the retrofit of the Empire State Building, we have seen carbon emission reductions and cost savings that show this is a model for the rest of the country,” President Bill Clinton said publicly at the time. “Not only do investments like this help protect the environment and put people back to work, they pay for the cost of the improvements and generate additional savings into the future.”

The building’s energy retrofit model has been replicated nationwide, including at all 13 properties in Empire State Realty Trust’s New York metropolitan area commercial portfolio, and more than 50 other properties in the country such as the Moscone Center convention and exhibition complex in San Francisco and Chicago Union Station.

Recently the ninth annual Climate Week NYC took place to demonstrate support for action on climate change, and the Empire State Building served as the summit’s official lighting partner for the fourth year in a row. To mark the occasion, the building’s exterior LEDs powered by a computerized system went greenabove the 72nd floor.


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