« View All Blog Posts

Is Your Building Energy Efficient?
By Michael Schweibinz

Who thinks that old buildings are too difficult or expensive to upgrade to “green”? Come on, admit it. Well, the recent retrofitting of Empire State Building proves that notion to be largely false. The retrofitting of this iconic structure is a truly inspirational energy efficiency story—one that can be effectively used to make the case for using green building practices on virtually all types of buildings.

How Did They Do It?

In 2009, a team of engineers implemented a sophisticated energy efficiency plan while retrofitting the 82 year-old building. The team developed eight core renovation measures “addressing core building infrastructure, common spaces, and tenant suites.” Improvement processes performed by Johnson Controls and Jones Lang LaSalle included the refurbishment of all 6,514 windows, installing insulation behind all radiators, a chiller plant retrofit, new building management systems controls, new revenue-grade meters, and a web-based tenant energy management system.

Clearly these overhauls were not inexpensive. However, while the initial investment was substantial, the building is now cost effective. In the first year under the new program (after upgrades), the building’s energy costs were down by 5%, saving $2.4 million. In year two, the program exceeded its energy-efficiency promise by an additional 4%.

The Bottom Line

The Empire State Building is saving millions a year in energy costs, as compared to three years ago. But less obvious, the retrofitted building has attracted new highly prestigious tenants including “LinkedIn, Skanska, LF USA, Coty Inc., the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, and Shutterstock.”

These progressive companies wanted to lease “space that reflected their sustainability values, provided more comfort for employees, and allowed them to monitor and control their energy use.” The Empire State building clearly demonstrates that old buildings can be transformed into highly eco-friendly structures. Building and operating sustainably proves to be a win-win for all—benefiting both the bottom line and, more importantly, the entire planet.

Mention of specific companies or securities should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Posted: July 31, 2013