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Empire State building retrofit lights the way for new projects

June 29, 2013

Empire State building retrofit lights the way for new projects

Energy efficiency upgrades to New York City’s Empire State Building have been so successful that they are seen as a model for building retrofits being rolled out across the United States. For the second consecutive year, the building exceeded its “guaranteed energy savings.” In 2011, the Empire State Building beats its year-one energy-efficiency guarantee by 5 percent, saving $2.4 million, and in year two, it beat it by almost 4 percent.

The upgrade focused on eight key areas: refurbishing all 6,514 windows; installing insulation behind all radiators; a chiller plant retrofit; new building management system controls; new revenue-grade meters serving the entire building; and a web-based tenant energy management system. They also upgraded to 100 percent LED lighting, and each of the 68 elevators are 30 percent more efficient and can send excess energy back to the building’s grid.

The core building retrofit is completed except for the build-out of high-performance space for new tenants. Once that’s finished, $4.4 million is expected to be saved each year, about a 38 percent cut in energy consumption. In total, the retrofit will cost $550 million. Johnson Controls guaranteed the energy savings through a $20 million performance contract; the retrofit is paid through the energy saved over the life of the contract. If the savings aren’t realized, Johnson Controls pays the difference.

In 2009, the building was retrofitted under the Clinton Climate Initiative Cities program and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. A coalition of leading organizations focused on energy efficiency and sustainability was assembled to develop the program, including the Empire State Building, Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle and Rocky Mountain Institute.

Now, Johnson Controls and Jones Lang LaSalle are rolling out the program across the U.S. They jointly implemented the program at all 13 properties in Malkin Holdings NYC-area commercial portfolio and One Worldwide Plaza in New York. Separately, they have replicated the model at 70 commercial buildings.

“The success from the Empire State Building retrofit project further demonstrates that thoughtfully applied energy-efficiency investments can deliver unparalleled returns through a combination of lower energy, lower operating costs, and increased building valuation,” says Iain Campbell, Vice President of Global Energy and WorkPlace Solutions for Johnson Controls Building Efficiency. “When implemented under a performance contract, the energy savings are guaranteed, ensuring a no-ris investment and a smart business decision.”

Read more at GreenBiz.

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