Empire State Building Cleaning Up Energy Expenditures

A series of sustainability retrofits has been announced for New York’s Empire State Building – the goal is to reduce energy costs for the skyscraper by 40%.  Is this a lofty goal?  There’s a $20 million dollar grand retrofit planned, and the energy savings from it are supposed to total somewhere in the neighborhood of $4.4 million.  Not a bad return, considering.  There are some snippy commentaries on this plan – overall, sure, it’s great – let’s save money.  Why has it taken so long to fix these big money magnets associated with power expenditures in the Empire State Building?  What do you think?

Clinton Climate Initiative, Rocky Mountain Institute, Johnson Controls, and Jones Lang LaSalle are all participating in this big project – the larger project at hand is a $500 million dollar renovation plan of several spaces.  I don’t know the timeframe to accomplish all of this, but the Empire State Building systems retrofits are supposed to be finished by 2010, and tenant space renovations by 2013.  Here’s a bit of the plan for the Empire State Building:

  • 1. Window Light Retrofit:  Refurbishment of approximately 6,500 thermopane glass windows, using existing glass and sashes to create triple-glazed insulated panels with new components that dramatically reduce both summer heat load and winter heat loss.
  • 2. Radiator Insulation Retrofit: Added insulation behind radiators to reduce heat loss and more efficiently heat the building perimeter.
  • 3. Tenant Lighting, Daylighting and Plug Upgrades: Introduction of improved lighting designs, daylighting controls, and plug load occupancy sensors in common areas and tenant spaces to reduce electricity costs and cooling loads.
  • 4. Air Handler Replacements: Replacement of air handling units with variable frequency drive fans to allow increased energy efficiency in operation while improving comfort for individual tenants.
  • 5. Chiller Plant Retrofit: Reuse of existing chiller shells while removing and replacing “guts” to improve chiller efficiency and controllability, including the introduction of variable frequency drives.
  • 6. Whole-Building Control System Upgrade: Upgrade of existing building control system to optimize HVAC operation as well as provide more detailed sub-metering information.
  • 7. Ventilation Control Upgrade: Introduction of demand control ventilation in occupied spaces to improve air quality and reduce energy required to condition outside air.
  • 8. Tenant Energy Management Systems: Introduction of individualized, web-based power usage systems for each tenant to allow more efficient management of power usage.

Let’s hope we see innovation like this everywhere we look.  Here’s a video of the Clinton Climate Initiative’s involvement in the project:

Thanks, Earth2Tech and Treehugger!