After five years of construction, the Empire State Building’s $550 million retrofit to make the building more energy efficient is paying off, with even more savings than expected. The fabled landmark saved $2.3 million and $2.4 million on energy costs in the past two years, which was 4-5% better than projected. When the retrofit is fully complete, the building is expected to save $4.4 million annually, which is about 38% of the building’s current bill. The building also unexpectedly received a LEED Gold certification thanks to the installation of new lighting and windows, modernized boilers, and insulated radiators.
The retrofit aimed to not only cut down bills but also improve the reputation and desirability of the building itself, a goal which it has seemingly achieved with the attraction of tenants such as LinkedIn, Coty Inc and Shutterstock. Anthony Malkin, president of Malkin Properties, which controls the building, is extremely proud of the restoration and updating work that has been done in the building. He was quoted as saying that “the energy efficiency was a huge component of our success in repositioning the building.” Along with the attraction of contributing to the sustainability effort, tenants will benefit from lower operating expenses due to the energy efficiency, which will allow them to improve their bottom line.
It is the hope of the project partners that the high visibility of the Empire State Building will motivate other commercial landlords to consider investing in a similar energy-saving upgrade. If other New York buildings follow in the Empire State Building’s footsteps, it could put a large dent in the city’s energy use. According to PlaNYC, buildings account for 80% of New York’s carbon emissions. A city-wide change of the magnitude of the Empire State Building’s magnitude could cut those annual emissions by 4 million tons.
Victor Olgyay, a principal with Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute, another partner on this project, pointed out the many benefits of such an undertaking that go far beyond energy cost savings. According to him, “a growing body of evidence shows that super-efficient buildings boast higher occupancy rates, increased rental and sales prices, better employee retention and decreased risk.”
If that myriad of incentives doesn’t motivate building owners to consider a similar sustainability project, then who knows what will?