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Old May 17th, 2009, 02:54 PM   #1
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Empire State Building's Green Initiatives

Empire State Building becomes green giant
13 May 2009
Agence France Presse

Changing windows in New York sounds easy -- but changing the planet too?

That's the goal at the Empire State Building where switching windows, all 6,500, is part of a retrofit meant to transform the tower, scene of King Kong's last stand in the Hollywood classic, into an eco-friendly model for the world.

Anthony Malkin, representing the owners, told AFP the multi-million-dollar project -- a massive upgrade of heating, cooling and lighting systems -- will reduce energy consumption by 38 percent.

Commercial buildings produce 78 percent of greenhouse emissions in New York, so greening the Empire State Building is a big step.

And the idea is that if you can do that in a 1931 Art Deco skyscraper, you can do it anywhere.

"It has a real rippling effect beyond this building and this city," said Kathy Baczko at the Clinton Climate Initiative, part of former president Bill Clinton's foundation, which is backing the project. "It's a new beacon for how you can be energy efficient."

The retrofit adds 20 million dollars to the 500 million dollar cost of a general refurbishment underway at the iconic tower.

According to planners, full efficiency gains will kick in by 2013, bringing annual savings of 4.4 million dollars and placing the skyscraper in the top 10 percent of office buildings for greenness.

Malkin, president of Wien and Malkin, which oversees the building for the owners, including the Malkin family, likes stressing business friendly aspects, including the potential to attract higher-paying tenants.

He talked passionately about preventing global warming from turning the world to "toast," but bristled during an interview at being seen as a tree hugger.

"It's not about greening," said Malkin, 46, whose office carpet, shirt and even tie all happened to be various shades of green. "This is sound business. That's what this is about."

What makes the project new, organizers say, is a holistic approach that seeks causes of problems -- for example variation in office temperature -- as well as solutions.

"People have looked at specific technologies, the lighting, or the heating, but not at the building as a whole," said Paul Rode, a project executive with the engineering company Johnson Controls.

This analysis took 18 months in which 65 areas were modeled and eight were chosen as targets for the retrofit, ranging from better insulated windows to occupancy sensors for lights.

The Empire State Building is most famous for being tall, a soaring, tapering stack of 102 floors ending with a many-colored, illuminated spire.

But Rode says the remake starts underground in the cavernous and wasteful chiller plant, which he describes as "a time warp."

"Everything you see," he said, pointing to a wall covered with archaic-looking control dials and red lamps, "is going into that" -- a single desktop, flat-screen computer.

That software, as well as hardware like new motors and compressors, will bring sophistication to a system currently churning out heat and cold with little regard to actual demand.

Up on the 62nd floor, looking down on the toy-like Manhattan and Hudson River, Rode explained how new windows will complement that newly intelligent system.

"The first thing we noticed was that 6,500 windows provided a lot of light, but also heat," he said.

The current windows are double-glazed. Each will be removed and given a third film, with layers of argon/krypton gas and microscopic aluminum to provide insulation and repel ultra-violet sun rays.

"We want to let in the visible light, but not the heat-producing, non-visible rays," Rode said.

A former nuclear engineer on navy ships, Rode said he was initially unexcited by the idea of working on an office building.

But the tower presents "very novel complexities" that have captured his imagination.

One of them is performing this top-to-bottom rejuvenation without changing the appearance of the historic building -- or getting in the way of 10,500 tenants and almost four million annual tourists.

"It's like changing the black and white TV into a color TV, but have it look exactly the same -- except for the picture -- and all while people are still watching," he said.

Surveying the Empire State Building from the terrace at his nearby office, Malkin said the elegant skyscraper is "a big lab, a big test bench" for reducing the carbon footprint of older office buildings everywhere.

"Every single thing was done with the understanding that it has to be part of a replicable process."

And if the world ignores that challenge? "Then it's game over," Malkin said.
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Old May 18th, 2009, 12:04 AM   #2
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I'm not sure if the Empire State Building has even had any renovations throughout its existance, except when it was repaired following that 1945 plane crash. And if the World Trade Center hadn't been killed in the 2001 attacks, we should have gaveall seven of those buildings those buildings a green makeover, too.
I honestly think all development projects must be sustainable and futureproof.

You support the good projects... and oppose the bad.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 07:45 PM   #3
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Iconic skyscrapers losing their luster have found the fountain of youth in green technology
6 July 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - When owners of the Empire State Building decided to blanket its towering facade this year with thousands of insulating windows, they were only partly interested in saving energy.

They also needed tenants.

After 78 years, Manhattan's signature office building had lost its sheen as one of the city's most desirable places to work. To get it back, the owners did what an increasing number of property owners have done -- they went green, shelling out $120 million on a variety of environmental improvements, a move would have been considered a huge gamble a few years ago.

Buildings that define city skylines across the country, some national icons, are catching up to the sleek, new structures designed with efficiency in mind, as property owners and managers become convinced that a greener building now makes financial sense.

That's because in recent years environmental retrofits have begun to pay off for owners and tenants alike. Higher-profile companies are seeking out more efficient office space, and new technology at older buildings has started to translate into higher property values, leases and occupancy rates.

"In a good market, we're going to get the best rents for the best tenants," said Anthony E. Malkin, who leads a real estate group that owns the Empire State Building. "In a bad market like we have now, we're going to get tenants when other buildings won't."

Renovation specialists around the country have been plugging porous walls in numerous old buildings, adding high tech water systems and using recycled material in carpets and tile.

One of them is the Christman Building in Lansing, Mich., an 81-year-old Elizabethan Revival office that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While repairing the limestone exterior and preserving unique details like the mica light fixtures, the building owners spent $8.5 million to add water-efficient plumbing and increased the amount of natural light. They also capped the building with a reflective "cool" roof.

Chicago's Sears Tower announced late last month that it will embark on a five-year, $350 million green renovation. The 110-story, staggered skyscraper, which turned 36 this year, will crown its rooftops with solar panels, wind turbines and up to 35,000 square feet of sunlight-absorbing gardens.

When complete, the improvements will cut the tower's annual electricity use by 80 percent and save 24 million gallons of water, property managers say.

Building owners trumpet their environmental commitment when extensive modifications are made, yet in many cases those changes are being pushed by tenants.

Many high-profile tenants won't even consider moving into a property without the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, said Allan Skodowski with Transwestern management group. They may not even know what the certification means, he said, but they demand it nonetheless.

"They say 'We want LEED,'" Skodowski said, "and that's it."

Nine of Transwestern's properties received certification this year. A combination of energy efficient light bulbs and other green equipment helped those buildings slash energy consumption. On average, they've seen a 2 percent drop in energy costs, even as electricity rates jumped between 10 percent and 40 percent, Skodowski said.

Leasing rates have not risen as a result of the changes, Skodowski said, yet at the same time occupancy rates have not fallen. That's a victory for an industry hit hard by the recession. Vacancy rates at office buildings nationwide have gone from 10.9 percent at the end of 2007 to 12.4 percent in the first quarter of this year.

"If one extra tenant comes and looks at the building, if the owner gets an extra penny or so a foot, then at the end of the day it's paying for itself," Skodowski said.

A recent analysis by real estate researcher CoStar Group, Inc. found that green-certified buildings had fewer vacancies than other buildings with similar age, size and location.

The CoStar study, which included about 3,000 green-certified offices, found that buildings with the council's certification enjoyed higher occupancy rates (90.3 percent) than their peers (84.7 percent) in the first three months of 2009.

Certified buildings have fetched higher lease rates for several years. The CoStar report said the buildings rented at an average of $38.86 per square foot in the first quarter of 2009 compared with $29.80 per square foot for their peers.

"This isn't just a 'We are doing the right thing' movement," said Marc Heisterkamp, U.S. Green Building Council's director of commercial real estate. "In the end, the numbers pencil out."

At the Empire State Building, Malkin proposed a top-to-bottom renovation that included a $13.2 million investment in new green technologies. The goal was to sufficiently reduce greenhouse gases without spending more than he could justify to his investors.

What the owners settled on was a series of upgrades that include retrofitting all 6,500 windows. Under every window, radiators will be padded with extra insulation. The building's lighting, cold water and ventilation systems also will be upgraded.

The renovation should take 18 months. Afterward, the owners expect an annual energy savings of $4.4 million, enough to pay off the new technologies in about three years.

Already, the renovation has lured upscale, energy-conscious companies like Swedish construction firm Skanska, said Ray Quartararo with Jones Lang Lasalle, which is managing the renovation.

Skanska wanted its U.S. headquarters to have a LEED "platinum" certification -- reserved for only the most efficient of buildings -- and it found a willing partner in the Empire State Building. Skanska officials said the building's management helped them install bike racks and add other energy-saving details on the 32nd floor.

"We had looked at several downtown spaces, but the Empire State Building made the most sense," a company spokeswoman said.

Jacques Catafago, an attorney who works 16 floors above Skanska's new office, is also happy with the changes. Catafago has fought the building management before on other fees, but he said he wouldn't mind paying more rent if it goes toward renovations that cut his electric bill.

Besides, Catafago said, he's already checked out the rent for similar buildings in the city and realizes he has a pretty good deal at the Empire State Building.

"We'd be paying twice as much" uptown, he said.
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Old July 8th, 2009, 12:53 AM   #4
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I love the idea
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Old July 9th, 2009, 02:55 PM   #5
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great idea.. hope that other skyscrapers worldwide follow the initiative.. ive heard singapore is also doing it now...
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Old July 13th, 2010, 05:59 PM   #6
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Empire State's eyes on world given green gaze
NYC skyscraper's windows revamped to save energy

13 July 2010
USA Today

NEW YORK -- You want to ask him: How many do you break? That's because Anthony Concepcion does windows -- lots of windows.

He's working at the Empire State Building. As part of an effort to become certifiably green, the office tower is removing, retrofitting and replacing each of its 6,514 double-hung, dual-pane windows. That's 26,056 panes of glass. "It's a lot of glass," says Concepcion, 39, work crew supervisor for the contractor, Serious Materials of Sunnyvale, Calif. "It's all part of going green."

The building, for four decades the world's tallest and once again the tallest in New York, is spending $13 million on windows, insulation and other upgrades to cut energy use by 38% and save about $4.4 million a year.

Never has a structure so old and so tall gone so green. "It's the most recognizable building energy retrofit in the world," says Arah Schuur, director of a conservation program at former president Bill Clinton's foundation.

If you can retrofit the Empire State Building, you can retrofit anything, says Kevin Surace, president of Serious Materials.

The building has earned a score of 90 (out of 100) from the Environmental Protection Agency's "Energy Star" program. That means a building constructed at a size (102 stories), a time (1930) and a pace (about 14 months) not known for energy efficiency now ranks in the top tenth of commercial office buildings.

Tony Malkin heads the company that runs the tower. He says the goal, in addition to cutting costs and making the building more attractive to green-minded tenants, is to give other office building owners a model.

The Clinton Climate Initiative, created by the former president's foundation, says buildings can account for three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas.

The Empire State Building project has aroused interest among other high-rise owners, Schuur says, "but nothing far enough along to mention." Malkin says projects like his soon will be announced.

Ahead of Chicago tower

A year ago, the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in Chicago announced plans to replace its 16,000 single-pane windows and put solar panels, windmills and gardens on the roof, all to help reduce electricity use by a whopping 80%. Kate Murphy, spokeswoman for the building, says finances have pushed back the project.

Malkin's Empire State Building energy retrofit is about half- finished.

The new windows, which have 2.5 to four times more insulation, are not really new. They are fashioned mostly from existing components by Concepcion's crew of 35. Working in two shifts, the crew assembles 75 to 80 windows a day in a noisy workroom on the fifth floor.

Each night, workers remove scores of windows from their frames on the building's office floors. The windows are replaced on the spot with refinished ones. Workers then wheel the old windows to the workroom, where the glass panes are detached from their sashes, pulled apart and carefully cleaned.

A sheath of transparent film is laid between the panes, which are resealed and placed for an hour in a 205-degree oven to shrink the film into place. Next, a mixture of inert gases is pumped into the spaces between the panes for insulation. Finally, the panes are put back in the original sashes and remounted in the office floor frames.

Surace, the Serious president, says he has never heard of a big building choosing to reuse, rather than replace, so much window glass -- 96%. Malkin says he's saving about $2,300 per window and avoiding the environmental impact of trucking new windows from the factory and old ones to recycling.

Changes go unnoticed

Because the windows are removed after office hours and installed before most office workers return the next morning, one of the most ambitious projects in Empire State Building history is occurring without the knowledge of most of its occupants. The morning after the 32nd-floor offices of Skanska USA, a unit of the Swedish construction giant, had its windows swapped, "people didn't have a clue anything had been changed," says Deborah Ippolito, a senior manager. "You couldn't tell by looking at them."

Skanska, which occupies the entire floor, is the kind of big, environmentally conscious tenant Malkin wants to attract with the energy retrofit and an overall $550 million renovation.

Famous as it is, the Empire State Building never has enjoyed real cachet as a business address. Tenancy was so low during its early Depression years that it was derided as the "Empty State Building" and supported largely by visitors' observatory fees. Ever since World War II, it has had relatively small tenants paying relatively small rents.

Malkin wants to rent larger blocks of space to more prestigious tenants at higher rents. A study by CoStar Group found that in the first quarter of 2009, green-certified buildings had fewer vacancies than other comparable buildings and that such buildings have commanded higher rents for several years.

Green windows -- actually, the sashes and frames are all painted the same city-landmarked shade of red -- are part of that strategy at the Empire State Building.

Which leads back to Anthony Concepcion and the issue of breakage. Normally jovial, he grimaces a bit at the question. "Some days, none. Other times, up to three," he says. "It averages out to about one a day."
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 05:49 PM   #7
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Old Wine, New Bottles; Retrofits of existing buildings can cut energy use, save money—and attract tenants
21 September 2009
The Wall Street Journal

When it opened in 1931, the 102-story Empire State Building capped a decades-long race to build ever taller skyscrapers. Now, its owners hope to position it at the vanguard of a new trend: retrofitting old commercial buildings to lower their energy use.

The new lights, refurbished windows and other upgrades being installed in the building will save an estimated $4.4 million a year on utility bills and pay for themselves in three years. What's more, over the next 15 years, the changes will likely keep 105,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the air, the same as the emissions from roughly 1,300 cars during the same time period.

The Empire State Building is one of the most prominent projects by commercial-building owners who are putting their capital toward green retrofits. In doing so, they're betting that such investments will keep their properties desirable in a tough market, help them attract the best tenants, and give them a competitive advantage should the government pass tougher building energy standards.

Where the Savings Are

Commercial real estate accounts for nearly 20% of U.S. energy use, making the sector one of the biggest opportunities for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions. Even as new buildings are built green, the bigger potential lies in the tens of billions of square feet already built, environmentalists say.

But financing these retrofits has been a challenge. Multi-tenant buildings, where the benefits of energy savings would be split between landlords and tenants, are especially tough. Lack of capital due to the sour economy and falling real-estate values has compounded the problem.

The Empire State Building and a handful of other projects suggest some possible approaches companies can consider as cash becomes more available and new financing models emerge. "There's money to be made here that's being left on the table," says Anthony E. Malkin, president of Malkin Holdings, which supervises the Empire State Building on behalf of a syndicate of owners.

Other Projects

Other building owners both in the U.S. and abroad are taking on projects of their own. In June, the partnership that owns the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) announced that they would undertake a $350 million retrofit of Chicago's tallest building to reduce energy use by 80%.

In Frankfurt, Germany, Deutsche Bank AG is spending €200 million ($290 million) to update its headquarters, a twin-tower complex originally opened in 1984, with lighting improvements, triple-pane windows and several other energy- and water-saving measures. When the retrofit is complete in 2010, the complex is expected to cut its energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions by 50% or more.

Thomas Properties Group Inc. is in the process of certifying its entire 16 million-square-foot portfolio in the existing-building portion of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, better known as LEED. To certify their existing properties with this standard, owners must operate and manage their buildings in a way that saves energy and water and lessens the impact on the environment.

Among other projects, Thomas Properties has spent $46 million over the past four years to retrofit City National Plaza, a 2.5 million-square-foot twin-tower office built in 1972 in Los Angeles. The retrofits have reduced energy use per occupied square foot by 35%. Buildings rated by the LEED program have consistently had higher rents and occupancy rates, according to research by CoStar Group Inc., which tracks data on the commercial real-estate industry.

Still, the companies that have the capital to do such retrofits are the exception right now, says Roger Platt, senior vice president and counsel for the Real Estate Roundtable, a Washington, D.C., trade group for the commercial real-estate industry. "The hurdle rate is substantially higher than it was even a year ago, because of the fact that real-estate owners and investors need to preserve cash to deal with the recapitalization of real estate," he says.

At the Empire State Building, the owners paired the retrofit with a planned $500 million remodeling effort. Taking the whole building into account allowed project consultants to look for synergies among all the different building systems that contribute to energy use.

Modeling Change

Johnson Controls Inc., a Milwaukee-based company that won the contract to oversee energy improvements to the building, developed a computer model along with teams from the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based think tank, and Quest Energy of Arizona to see how different combinations of more than 60 suggested improvements would reduce carbon emissions—and at what cost. In the end they recommended eight.

All told, only about $20 million was added to the budget for the energy-saving improvements, such as 6,500 gas-filled windows that let in the same amount of light as double-pane windows but retain heat better during the winter.

The proposed changes had another upside: They eliminated the need for $7 million of planned upgrades. For instance, the owners had originally planned to replace the building's chiller plant, the massive machines that air-condition the skyscraper. But the energy improvements reduced the amount of cooling the building needs enough that a much cheaper retrofit of the existing equipment proved sufficient.

So, the incremental cost of the green retrofit was only $13 million, an amount that could be paid back in three years once the building achieves its expected annual energy savings.

--Mr. Buhayar is a former staff reporter in The Wall Street Journal's New York bureau.
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Old January 24th, 2013, 07:29 PM   #8
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Empire State Building Turns 80, Goes Green
May 1, 2012 04:14 PM ET // by Alyssa Danigelis

Eighty years ago today, President Hoover pressed a button in Washington, D.C. to turn on the Empire State Building's lights in New York. Since that official opening, the Art Deco building has been a New York City icon. Now it could become an icon for green retrofitting.

We're not talking about merely switching out lightbulbs, although lighting is part of the plan. The ambitious vision for the Empire State Building is to reduce the building's carbon footprint by 105,000 metric tons over the next 15 years. According to the Empire State Building Company and its partners, that's like taking 20,000 cars off the road.

The retrofit, called the "Empire State ReBuilding program," has $550 million in funding and support from the Clinton Climate Initiative, equipment company Johnson Controls, commercial real estate services company Jones Lang LaSalle and the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute. Since kicking off in 2008, the program has tackled a number of projects that have gone mostly unnoticed by visitors.

Each of the building's 6,514 windows was refurbished on-site. Most of the existing glass got reused in a process that made each one four times more efficient. Other decidedly unsexy but impressive changes include adding insulated barriers to all the radiators underneath windows, better air conditioning unit controls, fine-tuning each floor's air handling units and adding wireless network control for real-time monitoring of all the building's systems.

Of course, tenants have been urged to switch to compact fluorescents. And early last year, the building's management signed a two-year contract to buy wind power from Green Mountain Energy Company. According to the Rebuilding program's leadership, the multinational construction and development company Skanska, a tenant on the 32nd floor, will see $20,000 in annual energy savings because of the retrofits.

Sometimes I forget the enormity of this skyscraper. As a reminder, the building accommodates around 3,400 workers during peak times, more than 3 million light bulbs, 1,860 steps from the street to the 102nd floor, and 68 elevators.

In New York alone, existing buildings account for 80 percent of the city's carbon dioxide emissions. The Empire State Building retrofit program partners hope this massive green overhaul will become a template for other major buildings to follow. Empire State Building Company principal Anthony Malkin has said, "If we only succeed at the Empire State Building, we have failed."
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Old January 27th, 2013, 03:53 PM   #9
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Basically, every building should do this. Even changing light bulbs for LED's is a big energy- and cost saver.
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Old January 3rd, 2015, 10:45 AM   #10
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Empire State Building goes Green w Red-White Candy Stripes in celebration of Christmas
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