New Report Shows That NYC’s Greenest Building Actually Consumes a Ton Of Energy – Here’s Why

by , 07/31/13
filed under: Architecture,Manhattan

The New Republic, Bank of America Tower, USGBC, LEED certification, 1 Bryant Park, green design, sustainable design, eco-design, New York's greenest building, Al Gore's company, Generation Investment Management, energy intensive buildings in New York

The paper points to flaws in the USGBC’s LEED certification process to explain the gap between what critics perceive as greenwashing and the building’s actual performance. Instead of waiting until occupants move in and set up their systems before certifying a project, the USGBC makes their decision beforehand, resulting in a premature assessment.

The New Republic reports that the tower’s trading floors drain the most energy because each desk has five computer monitors that run constantly. Reportedly, the work stations alone use the same amount of energy as a 25-mile-per-gallon car that travels more than 4,500 miles in a year, and this says nothing of the energy required to run the servers and provide heating and cooling.

The point the paper seems to want to make is this: if the USGBC certified the project after tenants moved in, it might not have received such a high rating, but LEED claims they can’t control what tenants do. “We are not the government,” Scot Horst, the senior vice president of LEED, told the paper. “We can’t regulate anything.”

According to The New Republic, the city will release new data in September demonstrating that the Bank of America tower has improved its performance in the last year. However, that may not be enough for the building’s most famous tenant, Vice President Al Gore and his company Generation Investment Management, to claim that they works from one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in New York.

Via The New Republic



  1. average joe October 9, 2013 at 7:40 am
    @backpackerreport - there is many computer programs that could be used to shutdown the monitor as well as send the cpu to sleep... my company did this and cut the energy useage from the computer in half and saved over 10k a year and we are just a medium size
  2. Dan Rezaiekhaligh August 1, 2013 at 1:40 am
    Sorry kinda oz a crap view. The rating is for the building not what people do inside of it. Why not compare how the building performs to another similar building? Wow the logic behind this is so flawed and it does make a nice argument for politicians to try and block leed certification(wait they've already started). How do you even make a jump from the "building" is LEED certified but the tenants are running 5 computers per person so that means the building isn't good? If I run over someone with my car it doesn't mean the car is less safe.
  3. mirentxu July 31, 2013 at 4:02 pm
    Unfortunately, the fact that the certification doesn’t take into account how the users will interact with the building, is one of LEED’s (and other certification standards as well) major faults. These are issues that should be dealt with or at least considered very early on during a project’s design process, and involves all specialists. It’s a fundamental part of designing sustainably and responsibly. At this point, certification usually aims to ensure the highest level of technology available for building systems, even though this is not always the most successful way to ensure and efficient building. Which is why I’m not a fan of certification.
  4. rpvitiello July 31, 2013 at 1:46 pm
    We don't rate the fuel economy of cars, based on how the owners drive them. Why would you try and rate buildings, based on the habits of the occupants?! Is it not better to have people and companies that are energy hogs in the most efficient building you can put them in? According to that logic any building that sits vacant with the utilities off 90% of the time would meet the "platinum" standard for low energy consumption, and a building that is used 24/7 would get penalized.
  5. backpackerreport July 31, 2013 at 8:57 am
    i've worked on trading floors for many years and almost everyone leaves their monitors on, even over the weekend. really wish there was an easy way to switch them all off at night and back on in the morning.