The iconic Empire State Building in New York City amazed people in 2009 when it set out to retrofit its 6,514 windows taking them from antique to modern day performance standards. If this 1,454 foot building can do it, any building can.
For doing so, and for implementing other key green building features, the EPA awarded the building with ENERGY STAR certification for the second consecutive year - equivalent to achieving LEED-Gold status under US Green Building Council certification standards.
In April 2009, President Bill Clinton and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a groundbreaking $20 million sustainability retrofit for the Empire State Building. The total renovation program is costing $550 million.
The retrofit will reduce energy use by more than 38% and save the building over $4.4 million a year.
Besides replacing all the building's windows, building management has added insulation behind radiators to reduce heat loss, replaced the chiller system, and introduced energy management systems on every floor so that tenants can effectively manage and control their energy use.
All 68 of the building's elevators are being modernized. In addition to being much more energy efficient, they'll be able to send regenerated energy back into the building grid, reducing elevator energy use 30%.
And the Empire State Building announced it would run 100% on wind energy, becoming New York's largest commercial renewable energy purchaser.
EPA's ENERGY STAR program provides tools which help organizations evaluate and reduce their building's energy use and carbon footprint. To obtain a certificate, a number of structural and energy output goals must be met and verified by a licensed engineer. Only buildings with a rating of 75 points or above (out of 100), are eligible for certification.
The Sears Tower, now called the Willis Tower, in Chicago also embarked on a major energy retrofit in 2009, which will allow it to produce most of its own energy.
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