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Overwhelmed by your incomprehensibly massive, energy efficiency retrofit project? Here’s some perspective.

2009 October 27

how does a giant monkey impact a building's carbon footprint?If you were able to implement a comprehensive energy efficiency retrofit by updating your building’s controls, automation processes, lighting and more – and if you could save 38% of the building’s energy and lower your building costs by $4.4 million annually, all for the low, low price of $550 million, you’d do it, right?

No? Well, maybe that’s because it’s unlikely that you own the Empire State Building*. Still, this type of massive undertaking of retrofitting one of the world’s most famous buildings can be seen as a pretty important symbol of exactly what’s possible when it comes to contemplating these projects. If a 78-year-old, 102-story, nearly 3 million-square-foot building can be successfully renovated to improve energy use, advance green technology and reduce its carbon footprint, then so can our schools, hospitals, offices and pretty much all of the buildings that you are connected to in some way.

nearly 3 million square feet of renovation. no problem!What’s more, the Empire State Building wants to show you how to do it. In a recent article in Fast Company, author Christine Arena shares the extraordinary level of public transparency with which the ESB ownership approached their retrofit project. The company created a website called Empire State Building Sustainability that features a ginormous amount of content dedicated to how the building’s retrofit was planned, designed, and what lessons have been learned from the project so far. One particularly spiffy useful tool on the site is its “Solve the Retrofit Puzzle” feature in which site visitors can shuffle about the various elements of the project – including demand control ventilation, daylighting and plug controls, air handling units and more – in an effort to understand how the Empire State Building project was conceived and executed. It’s really a wonderful, immersive, interactive tool that shows not only how important building controls and many other factors can be in a project of this size, but also how they – quite literally – all fit together.

(story via David Williams on Twitter)

* Of course, if you’ve found my little blog here and you are the owner of the Empire State Building, why not give Alps Controls a call today? We ♥ NY!

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Dave W permalink
    October 30, 2009

    Spend $550 Million to save $4.4 million/year. Wish my customers would settle for a 125 year payback.

    • admin permalink*
      November 3, 2009

      Dave W,
      In addition to the actual energy savings as a result from the building’s retrofit, the article linked details a number of other cost gains that will be realized from this “whole building approach”.

      From the article:

      …a principle motive behind the energy retrofit is long-term value. Malkin envisions green buildings as higher quality buildings – buildings that produce superior cash flow resulting from reduced energy costs and tenant’s desire for a better way of living…In addition to driving down utility, maintenance and repair costs, improvements on The Empire State Building are projected to result in increases in rent and occupancy rates due to enhanced value on updated services.

      The article and the ESB’s sustainability website contain more insight than I can reproduce here. Go take a look and see if maybe these ideas pay back in other ways perhaps not visible on the surface.

      Thanks for your comment!

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