Retrofit of Empire State Building to Slash Energy Use by 38%

April 08, 2009

Photo of the Empire State Building.

The renovation of the Empire State Building will demonstrate the benefits of energy retrofits in older buildings. Enlarge this image.
© 2001 N.Y.S. Department of Economic Development

A unique team of private companies and non-profit organizations has devised an energy retrofit for the Empire State Building that will reduce its energy use by 38%, including a 33% reduction in cooling load and a 3.5-megawatt reduction in peak electrical demand. The retrofit project, a small part of a $500 million upgrade for the New York City landmark, will reduce energy loads by upgrading windows and lighting and by adding radiative barriers behind the radiators. To deliver the remaining energy more efficiently, the retrofit will upgrade some of the chillers for the building while removing others, and it will install new variable-speed air handling units. And to better control that energy delivery, the retrofit will add demand-control ventilation and tenant energy management systems, while also upgrading energy controls and meters for the building as a whole. Efforts to be completed by the end of 2010 will yield half the energy savings, while the remainder will be achieved by 2013.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of the retrofit project is the process used by the project partners, a process that can be applied to other building retrofits. The project partners used both existing and newly created modeling, measurement, and projection tools to analyze the Empire State Building and establish a full understanding of its energy use, as well as its functional efficiencies and deficiencies. The project was convened by the Clinton Climate Initiative, and the project team included Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle, and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), which documented the process and tools on a new Web site. See the Johnson Controls press release and the RMI feature article on the project.