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Empire State Building Going Green

New York’s Empire State Building, that quintessential downtown skyscraper (and Captivate partner since Feb. 2005), is going green.

Lots of buildings are, but this one is particularly newsworthy. The Empire State Building is a National Historic Landmark with a fabled history, it’s recognized worldwide, and, of course, it’s survived an attack from a giant ape (several, unfortunately). But what really gives the effort extra importance is that it’s a test case that will be used as a model to retrofit buildings for environmental sustainability.

“Commercial and residential buildings account for the majority of the total carbon footprint of cities around the world – over 70% in New York City,” says Anthony E. Malkin, Empire State Building Company. “Beginning in February 2008, the Empire State Building has been used as a test bench to create a replicable process to reduce energy consumption and environmental impacts.”

So how exactly is this greening taking place? Lots of groups are involved. The Clinton Climate Initiative, Jones Lang LaSalle, Johnson Controls and the Rocky Mountain Institute have teamed for the $20 million, five-year project, which is expected to reduce the building’s energy consumption by up to 38%. Among the initiatives, which when implemented will save $4.4 million in annual energy costs, are:

  • A web-based system that allows tenants to efficiently manage power usage.
  • Improved lighting designs, daylighting controls, and plug load occupancy sensors in common areas and tenant spaces to reduce electricity costs and cooling loads.
  • Added insulation behind radiators to reduce heat loss and more efficiently heat the building perimeter.
  • Retrofitting about 6,500 windows to create triple-glazed insulated panels with new components that dramatically reduce both summer heat load and winter heat loss.


Another newsy aspect of the project? Bill Clinton is involved! That’s always fun. The Clinton Climate Initiative “played a central role in convening a unique set of partners that are working to make the Empire State Building retrofit project possible. It is this kind of innovative collaboration that is crucial to protecting our planet and getting our economy up and running again,” the former president said.

Seems like a fantastic initiative, which will help limit the environmental impact of not just this historic building, but, if everything goes according to plan, thousands of other old-time high-rises. So how can Captivate viewers – who utilize these buildings and their energy every day – contribute to the cause?

“Like with many other large-scale environmental projects – such as community recycling – success depends on broad participation,” Mr. Malkin says. “We expect tenants to share our deep commitment to this project, which will ultimately result in energy cost savings for them as well.”

Scroll through the videos below to "CCI Helps Retrofit Empire State Building" to get more details on the project.






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“Empire State Building Going Green”