A 1,454-foot landmark of the Manhattan skyline, the building’s 6,514 windows were refurbished through a groundbreaking process that reused 96 percent of the existing glass and frames. The initiative alone will directly reduce building energy costs by more than $400,000 annually.
The green renovation is the brainchild of Clinton Climate Initiative, Jones Lang LaSalle, Johnson Controls Inc. and the Rocky Mountain Institute. While the window replacement totaled nearly $4.6 million (at $700 per window), it will become a part of a projected savings of $4.4 million each year for the building.
Glass in the building’s windows were reused and renovated into triple-glazed insulated panels. They are now four times more thermally efficient compared to older dual-pane windows and are expected to reduce solar heat gain by more than 50 percent.
According to Dana Schneider, senior manager for projects at Jones Lang LaSalle, all work was done on-site in order to reduce energy usage associated with transportation.
“In retrofitting the Empire State Building for energy efficiency, we are looking for all opportunities to reuse or recycle existing materials, as well as to use recycled materials wherever possible,” Schneider told Earth911.com in April 2009.
The project was completed three months ahead of schedule as crews worked to replace thousands of windows overnight over a period of seven months. But the window refurbishment is just one component of an overall retrofitting scheme backed by President Bill Clinton and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In one of the world’s most ambitious retrofitting projects, the Empire State Building chose to build upon its existing environment in order to save resources, cut costs and maintain a historic city icon.
“The Empire State Building began an innovative retrofit program in 2009 to bring the world’s most iconic building to the forefront of energy efficiency. This process serves as a replicable model for commercial buildings globally,” said Anthony E. Malkin, of owner, Empire State Building Company.
“The window retrofit is a key milestone in the Empire State Building project, already proving that buildings can be retrofitted efficiently and economically while providing rapid payback,” he added.
Slated for completion in 2013, the building’s sustainability program is expected to reduce total energy usage by more than 38 percent and carbon emissions by 105,000 metric tons over the next 15 years. Also, the project is estimated to create more than 140 direct and indirect jobs.
While it’s not considered a government building, the Empire State Building retrofit milestone comes at a climactic time for green construction advancement in New York City. On Aug, 27, the State Green Building Construction Act officially went into effect, requiring all future construction and major renovation projects on New York state government buildings to follow new building standards set by the New York Office of General Services.