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The Empire State Building, its luster dimmed and itsepic height overtaken during the building boom of thelast several decades, is getting a timely makeover. Ledby the Clinton Climate Initiative’s team of experts,this iconic American skyscraper is embracing energyefficiency and carbon-emissions reduction. When com- pleted, the 2.8-million-square-foot landmark will serveas a beacon for the real estate industry gearing up forthe reality of a post-carbon future.In a city where buildings account for 80 percent of allgreenhouse gas emissions, the Empire State Building presents a highly replicable model of an environmen-tally progressive retrofit, in three basic steps.
1. Sixty-five hundred existing windows will bereglazed to reduce the building’s winter heat lossand summer heat gain. As daylight better illumi-nates the interior, electric lighting may be reduced,eliminating tons of waste heat.2. The building will downsize its climate-controlsystems to meet its remaining heating and cool-ing needs more efficiently. With reduced needfor cooling, downsized air-handling systems willsupport comfort and good air quality with lowerenergy expenditure.3. A new computerized system will give building tenants feedback on their energy use, encouraging further energy savings.An anticipated 38 percent reduction in energy use will rank the project in the 90th percentile of the U.S.Department of Energy’s Energy Star benchmark sys-tem against comparable office buildings.
With $4.4million in projected annual savings, it may repay the$13.2 million cost in just over three years. Co-ownerAnthony Malkin contends that this model process“will inform lawmakers, property owners, and lenderson actions to take, laws and codes to write, and newfinancing programs to support, ultimately yielding reduced energy consumption, reduced carbon output,higher quality workspaces, and green local jobs.”
As he achieves these goals, Malkin is in stride with aleading generation of forward-thinking building own-ers, architects, engineers, developers, contractors, and product manufacturers intent on reengineering howbuildings perform. This burgeoning green building movement, now in its second decade, strives to holis-tically reduce (and eventually eliminate) the negativeimpacts buildings have on local and global ecosys-tems. While energy effectiveness is a leading driver,the movement also encompasses other “best practices,”including locational efficiency and compact design, siterestoration, stormwater and urban heat-island manage-ment, scaling back raw material and potable water use,and focusing on the quality of the indoor environment.