The Empire State Building, a truly magnificent piece of historical American real estate development is set to drag the great city of New York into a greener 21st Century, courtesy of the Clinton Climate Initiative and its owners (for allowing the CCI to work its magic) including Anthony Malkin, President of Malkin Holdings and part-owner of the Empire State Building.
The Empire State Building and other buildings like it (decades old sky scrapers) have been recognised as the gas gusslers of the real estate world. Buildings account for some 80% of New York energy consumption, and 20% of the buildings consume 80% of that. This means that 20% of New York’s buildings are responsible for 64% of the city’s energy consumption.
Having compiled these statistics, and noting that the Empire State Building, a world-icon was within the 20% of gas-gussling structures, the CCI set their heart on using it to publicise their efforts. After first being offered a building at Broadway and 35th street in Midtown Manhattan on approaching Malkin, who was currently renovating his entire portfolio, the CCI managed to get the green light to deploy their green retrofitting mechanisms on the Empire State Building. If it could turn the world-renowned Empire State into a model for efficiency, the whole world would take notice.
Malkin agreed for reasons both altruistic and self-interested. “This is all about making money,” Malkin says bluntly of the retrofit. “To me, the whole concept of ‘green’ is a misnomer. The world is getting greenwashed. If you can’t prove it economically, it doesn’t matter.”
Malkin and the CCI set out to prove not only that enhanced energy efficiency is a cost-effective means of controlling expenses, but to create an economically feasible model that can be implemented by any building anywhere.
“If we succeeded only at the Empire State Building, we failed,” Malkin says. â€œIt had to be broadly adoptable and malleable, and it had to be quantitative.”
The CCI and Malkin brought in a team of specialists who came up with an 8 point plan, including ripping 100 double-pane windows from their aging frames each day. The windows are then cleaned using specialist and rigorous methods, before being treated with a thin UV-resistant film, and pumped full of pressurized argon and krypton gasses. This improves the insulation capabilities of the windows to the cost of about $700 per window, a saving of 1,300 USD on the cost of replacing the windows.
Equally impressive is the largest wireless control network in the world, separate sensors monitor heat, occupancy levels and carbon dioxide levels, and control the heat, and air circulation accordingly. Many more small things include changing the layout of rooms to maximise on natural light and having moveable thermostats that will always measure the average temperature.
The benefit of the work will be to reduce the building’s energy consumption by 38.4 percent and its expenses by a few million dollars each year. On a building such a saving is significant not just for the building’s tenants and owners, but for the city as well.
Photo Credits: Tom via Flickr