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April 14, 2009: Retrofit Project at Empire State Building to Cut Energy Use by 38 Percent

April 14, 2009
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NEW YORK - Using the Empire State Building as a test case and model, environmental consulting, non-profit, design, and construction partners - including the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI), and Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) - have unveiled what they say is an innovative new process for analyzing and retrofitting existing structures for environmental sustainability.

Adopted as core elements of the more than $500 million upgrade program presently underway at the famous office building, the program is a comprehensive approach that integrates many steps to use energy more productively. The program is expected to reduce energy consumption by up to 38 percent and will provide a replicable model for similar projects around the world. Work has already commenced, and building systems work is slated to be completed by year-end 2010. The balance of the work in tenant spaces should be concluded by the end of 2013. Work that is scheduled to be completed within 18 months will result in over 50 percent of the projected energy savings. The balance will be an additional 36 months completed by 2013.

The project is expected to prove the viability of energy efficiency retrofit projects to significantly increase building energy efficiency and reduce its overall carbon output with sensible payback periods and enhanced profitability.

At the end of the project definition process, the team analyzed the steps to be taken in conjunction with other steps towards sustainability as part of the Empire State ReBuilding program within the framework of the existing U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Internal calculations show that the Empire State Building will be able to qualify for Gold certification for LEED for Existing Buildings, and ownership intends to pursue such certification.

“Commercial and residential buildings account for the majority of the total carbon footprint of cities around the world - over 70 percent in New York City. 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,” said Anthony E. Malkin of building owner, Empire State Building Company. “Most new buildings are built with the environment in mind, but the real key to substantial progress is reducing existing building energy consumption and carbon footprint.”

“This innovative process, which has developed new techniques for modeling and organizing an integrated program, offers a clear path to adoption around the world, leading to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” according to Malkin. “Along with other steps taken, in recycling waste and construction debris, use of recycled materials, and green cleaning and pest control products, the model built at the Empire State Building will meaningfully speed the reduction in energy consumption and environmental impact and allow more sustainable operations - while simultaneously enhancing profitability and tenant comfort. This is a real program, happening in real time, creating real green jobs.”

The project partners said they used existing and newly created modeling, measurement, and projection tools in a new and repeatable process to analyze the Empire State Building and establish a full understanding of its energy use as well as its functional efficiencies and deficiencies. This provided actionable recommendations along a cost-benefit curve to increase efficiency without harming bottom line performance. In reviewing more than 60 optional activities, the team identified eight economically viable projects, applicable to building-wide renovations, electrical and ventilation system upgrades, and tenant space overhauls that will provide a significant return on investment, both environmentally and financially.

“In this distressed economic climate, there is a tremendous opportunity for cities and building owners to retrofit existing buildings to save money and save energy,” said President Clinton. “I’m proud of the work my foundation’s climate initiative has done with 40 of the world’s largest cities, including New York where we 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.”

“This project brings to bear every bit of experience, research, and innovation we’ve accumulated in our 125 years in this business,” said Iain Campbell, vice president, Johnson Controls, which serves as the energy services company for the program. “It’s gratifying to know that just as we point to this building as one of the greatest achievements of our grandparent’s generation, so can our grandchildren point to us.”

“Not only will this project dramatically reduce the Empire State Building’s environmental impact, but now we’re able to do it in a way that provides meaningful costs savings to the building as well as its tenants,” said Raymond Quartararo, international director, Jones Lang LaSalle.

With an initial estimated project cost of $20 million, additional savings and redirection of expenditures originally planned in the building’s upgrade program, and additional alternative spending in tenant installations, the Empire State Building will save $4.4 million in annual energy savings costs, reduce its energy consumption by close to 40 percent, repay its net extra cost in about three years, and cut its overall carbon output through eight key initiatives, including:

1. Window Light Retrofit: Refurbishment of approximately 6,500 thermopane glass windows, using existing glass and sashes to create triple-glazed insulated panels with new components that dramatically reduce both summer heat load and winter heat loss.

2. Radiator Insulation Retrofit: Added insulation behind radiators to reduce heat loss and more efficiently heat the building perimeter.

3. Tenant Lighting, Daylighting and Plug Upgrades: Introduction of improved lighting designs, daylighting controls, and plug load occupancy sensors in common areas and tenant spaces to reduce electricity costs and cooling loads.

4. Air Handler Replacements: Replacement of air handling units with variable frequency drive fans to allow increased energy efficiency in operation while improving comfort for individual tenants.

5. Chiller Plant Retrofit: Reuse of existing chiller shells while removing and replacing “guts” to improve chiller efficiency and controllability, including the introduction of variable frequency drives.

6. Whole-Building Control System Upgrade: Upgrade of existing building control system to optimize HVAC operation as well as provide more detailed sub-metering information.

7. Ventilation Control Upgrade: Introduction of demand control ventilation in occupied spaces to improve indoor air quality and reduce energy required to condition outside air.

8. Tenant Energy Management Systems: Introduction of individualized, Web-based power usage systems for each tenant to allow more efficient management of power usage.

The full analysis process is available online as open-source materials for public use at www.esbsustainability.com and www.esbnyc.com.

Publication date: 04/13/2009

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