Owner, Tenants Map Ways To Cut Energy Use 40 Percent, Save $4.4 Million Per Year
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 11/02/2012 -- An entry on the National Resources Defense Council’s Switchboard staff blog reports Tony Malkin, president of Malkin Holdings, was cautious in approaching the retrofit of the commercial real estate firm’s biggest asset. That asset is the New York City’s iconic but aging Empire State Building.
Even though his wife Shelly was an NRDC trustee, Malkin was not primarily interested in making an environmental statement. As he told Harvard Magazine, any retrofit plan “had to make business sense,” since as a capitalist, he “wanted to make money. This is not charity."
So when he weighed energy-conservation parts of an overall retrofit plan, he went with a project team of real estate, energy service, and climate experts headed by Johnson Controls. He did so only after team members had spent nine months studying 60 possible steps and guaranteed the eight measures they selected would pay for themselves within three years. Another stipulation required that it must produce energy savings of about 20% over 15 years. If not, they agreed, they would pay for any shortfall.
One of the potential areas for achieving significant energy savings would be replacing the building’s 6,514 windows with high-efficiency models. But buying and installing brand-new windows would cost $20 million, so the project team came up with an ingenious alternative.
Instead of scrapping the old windows for newer ones, they opted to rebuild the existing windows on site by inserting a layer of high-grade insulating film between the two existing glass panes. As a result, the refurbished windows cost less than $5 million. That move will save the building and tenants about $414,000 in annual heating and cooling costs, and the process creates less waste for local landfills.
Commercial building tenants typically account for about half a building’s energy use, so the Empire State Building team included them as it made its retrofit plans. It also worked with new tenants when they were drawing up plans for building out newly-rented office space.
One new tenant, worked to develop an energy-efficient office layout whose cost over the lease term would not exceed those for typical high-end office space. Using an open-office floor plan taking maximum advantage of natural light, building in individual temperature controls for workspaces, and installing an under-floor ventilation system where just a few strategies implemented. All were designed to helped the firm cut its per-square-foot electricity bills to half of the company’s previous office. The the design features would more than pay for themselves in five years.
As the retrofit continues, energy-efficiency measures in the first year have already brought the Empire State Building’s owner and tenants $2.4 million in operating cost savings. When the retrofit project is done in the next few years, the building expects to cut energy use by almost 40% percent and save about $4.4 million annually.
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