Empire State Building Goes Green: Major Energy Efficiency Improvement Retrofit Announced

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The Empire State Building will soon be a lot more energy efficient: A series of green renovations were announced for the iconic New York City skyscraper that reduce its energy usage by 40%.

Work has already begun on the $20 million retrofit, which is being done as a joint project involving the Clinton Climate Initiative, Rocky Mountain Institute, Johnson Controls, and Jones Lang LaSalle, and is part of a greater $500 million in planned renovations. Building systems work is expected to be completed in 2010, with work in tenant spaces finished be the end of 2013. At least half of the energy savings should be realized by work completed within the first 18 months of the project.

In addition to the carbon emissions reductions resulting from the energy efficiency improvements, the building's annual energy bill savings will be in the region of $4.4 million. The following energy efficiency efforts will be undertaken:

  • 1. Window Light Retrofit:Â 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:Â 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:Â Introduction of individualized, web-based power usage systems for each tenant to allow more efficient management of power usage.