Empire State Building Aims Higher

July 8, 2013

How does an 82-year-old, 102-story skyscraper turn into a leader in energy efficiency? Look no further than the Empire State Building.

This iconic landmark currently holds an ENERGY STAR rating of 90 as it undergoes an extensive sustainability and energy retrofit. Upon completion later this year, the renovation is expected to reduce energy consumption by more than 38% and will save the building over $4.4 million annually.

To reduce operation costs, carbon emissions, and energy consumption, the retrofit is comprised of eight key initiatives:

  1. New Windows: Refurbish 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: Add insulation behind radiators to reduce heat loss and more efficiently heat the building perimeter.
  3. Tenant Lighting, Daylighting, and Plug Upgrades: Introduce 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: Install air handling units with variable frequency drive fans to allow increased energy efficiency in operation while improving comfort for individual tenants.
  5. Chiller Plant Improvement: Reuse existing chiller shells while removing and replacing inner workings to improve chiller efficiency and controllability, including the introduction of variable frequency drives.
  6. Whole-Building Control System: Upgrade existing building control system to optimize HVAC operation as well as provide more detailed submetering information.
  7. Ventilation Control: Use demand control ventilation in occupied spaces to improve air quality and reduce energy required to condition outside air.
  8. Tenant Energy Management Systems: Offer individualized, web-based power usage systems for each tenant to allow more efficient management of power usage.

The high ENERGY STAR rating was an original objective in the property’s rehabilitation and was accomplished just over a year into the project. The Empire State Building management team is confident that an even higher ENERGY STAR score will be achieved once all upgrades are completed.

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