Empire State Building Transitioning to LED Lighting

The Empire State Building, known for its ever-changing iconic lights that mark NYC’s skyline, is transitioning to LEDs as the next step in its $550 million energy efficiency retrofit.

Philips (NYSE: PHG) is supplying the LEDs and is working with building management on a state-of-the-art lighting system that allows the building’s façade and mast to change lighting scenes in real-time and highlight the building’s architectural details.

It will also make it much easier to change the lighting scenes. Today, it takes a team taking several hours to change the color palette of nearly 400 fixtures, and they have 10 colors to choose from.

Under the new computerized system, staff will be able to customize lights from a palette of over 16 million colors, including hard-to-achieve pastels, in virtually limitless combinations. 

Philips Color Kinetics LED lighting technology also makes it possible to control and focus the light exactly where and how the effect is desired. Ripple, cross-fade, particle and burst effects, previously not possible, can be easily automated to create unique lighting designs. 

Staff will be able to minimize light spill, ensuring that light is focused on the façade and mast, while providing enough light to allow the building to be seen from anywhere in New York City. This feature not only respects the night sky, but the building’s neighbors as well.

The 2.85 million-square-foot Empire State Building is both LEED-Gold Certified for Existing Buildings and Energy Star Certified and its $550 million energy retrofit was initiated by the Clinton Climate Initiative, Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle and the Rocky Mountain Institute.

The retrofit will reduce energy use by more than 38% and save the building over $4.4 million a year.

Besides refurbishing the building’s 6500 windows, all 68 elevators are modernized, making them 30% more efficient and able to send excess energy back to the building’s grid. Among the many other energy upgrades, energy management systems are every floor so that tenants can control their energy use.

The Empire State Building Company also bought carbon offsets totalling 55 million kilowatt hours a year of wind energy, making it carbon neutral.

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Comments on “Empire State Building Transitioning to LED Lighting”

  1. Gersl N. Kay, IESNA

    Fascinating. Since Lighting is the easiest discipline with which to conserve energy, what was done for lighting corridors, offices, shops, etc.?

  2. Rona Fried

    All the lighting in the Empire State Building has been retrofitted – any building that gets LEED-certified does that as a first step, since as you say, it’s the easiest upgrade to do. Click on the links in the article and you’ll see more detail in previous articles.


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