It’s official — the Empire State Building has been awarded LEED Gold certification. Thanks to a massive green overhaul that took more than two years, the landmark is now the tallest building in the United States to receive LEED certification. The groundbreaking retrofit included replacing the aging building’s windows with double hung operable windows and installing an energy efficient heating and cooling system. The changes are expected to reduce the building’s energy consumption by more than 38 percent and should save $4.4 million in energy costs.
Johnson Controls worked with LaSalle to implement the upgrades, which will reduce the building’s carbon emissions by an estimated 105,000 metric tons over 15 years. Plus, Malkin has agreed to annually purchase 55 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy from Green Mountain Energy, enough to power the entire building, making the landmark carbon neutral.
The official announcement of ESB’s LEED certification was made Tuesday afternoon by Anthony Malkin of the Empire State Building Company; Dana Robbins Schneider, vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle, the program manager of the retrofit and LEED process; and Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of USGBC, which awarded the LEED Gold.
The $100 million eco upgrade is part of the larger $550 million Empire State ReBuilding Program. In addition to energy upgrades to the building’s infrastructure, sustainable practices have been implemented in the building’s operations. Eco-friendly cleaning supplies and pest control are now used, plus offices use recycled paper and have new recycling programs. The new paints, carpets, and wall-coverings are all low-VOC and made from recycled materials. The bathrooms now have low-flow fixtures, and tenants can participate in energy metering systems to manage their own use of resources.
Office spaces inside the building have also been renovated so they are pre-built green spaces that are prepped for LEED for Commercial Interiors certification. A 3,500-square-foot pre-built space on the 42nd floor has already achieve LEED Platinum. Officials at the Empire State Building have been transparent about the energy upgrade, making the analytical model open-source and non-proprietary so other buildings can replicate it, which they are.
“By earning LEED Gold, the Empire State Building has sent a powerful message that green buildings don’t have to be new,” said Fedrizzi. “Even the most iconic, historic buildings, as grand in scale as in reputation, can be among the most high-performing, energy-efficient, green buildings.”