New Energy and Environment Digest 新能源与环保参考

Clinton Climate Initiative to Pay $20m for Empire State Building Efficiency Retrofit

Posted in Energy, Green Building & Construction, Organizations by ebalkan on April 7, 2009

empire state building green light night city new york lights dark blue sky photoFormer President Bill Clinton and Mayor Bloomberg appeared at a press conference on the Empire State Building’s 80th floor today to announce a cooperative initiative between the Clinton Climate Initiative and other partners to help green New York’s 78-year old signature building.

This phase of renovation, expected to take about 18 months. Under the plan, the building owner’s energy costs will decrease by $4.4 million a year, or 38 percent of energy use. An expected 105,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions will also be saved from as a result of the efforts, over a 15 year period, which equals 175,000 cars. The team hopes to reach an “Energy Star” rating of 90 from the US Environmental Protection Agency, making it among the top decile in energy efficiency.

To get there, the team plans to replace 6,500 windows with triple glazed ones that provide better insulation. Under the scheme, the building will also get an HVAC system upgrade, better insulation for the building’s radiators, and a redesigned lighting system that includes occupancy sensors and enhanced day lighting. Additionally, the building’s tenants will be given Web-based power use systems to more efficiently track and manage energy use.

The CCI will contribute $20 million to the $500 million project, which has been underway since 2007.  The CCI will work with the Empire State Building Company, energy efficiency solutions leader Johnson Controls Inc, emminent commercial real estate service provider Jones Lang LaSalle, and global warming crusader Rocky Mountain Institute for the retrofitting activities.

A video on the project, released today by the CCI, can be viewed here:

The team also hopes to pursue “gold” LEED rating for existing buildings, once the retrofit is complete. Bill Clinton has long been an advocate of LEED, and in 2004 earned the highest LEED rating – “Platinum” – for his Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Clinton believes that LEED is not only good for the environment, but for saving money as well. He spoke to this point in today’s press conference at the Empire State Building, saying “We have to prove it’s good economics, and we have to prove we know how to do it.”

Bloomberg echoed his sentiments, offering “You will never solve an environmental problem unless you show everybody it’s good business.” In New York City, which has a higher percentage of LEED certified new buildings than most other cities, the business case for the green standard appears to have taken hold. However, it will be still some years before the qualitative effects are felt, as still 79 percent of the city’s emissions come from buildings.

Moreover, while LEED standards are quickly becoming the norm for new construction, retrofits on older buildings – which represent the majority of most any city’s building stock – have not followed suit. In a Green Building Impact Report, which I co-authored with the developer of LEED, Robert Watson, findings indicated that 30% of new construction are LEED registered nationwide. However, registered retrofits are still much lower, and do not appear likely to grow as quickly as LEED for new construction has.

In spite of this, Clinton’s hope is that the greening of the Empire State Building will prompt other existing buildings to make similar upgrades to curb energy consumption and costs while simultaneously reducing emissions. He pointed out the project’s importance as a “beacon of light,” saying pointedly “every person on Earth who cares about this knows about the Empire State Building.” Out with democratic ideals, in with environmental ideals!

If you like what you see here, check out Bloomberg’s Ambitious Plan to Improve Energy Efficiency in NY Buildings.


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  1. […] announcement was made just a couple weeks after Bloomberg and President Clinton announced a $20 million efficiency overhaul of the Empire State Building, and the Mayor called for extensive urban wind power deployment. Two years ago, the Mayor launched […]

  2. […] announcement was made just a couple weeks after Bloomberg and President Clinton announced a $20 million efficiency overhaul of the Empire State Building, and the Mayor called for extensive urban […]

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