Gallery: NYC Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Goes Green!


‘Tis the season to be jolly, and if you happen to be in New York, green! This year New York’s finest Christmas landmark is going green in the spirit of the Christmas season. For the first time in its history, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, will be getting a new set of energy efficient LED Christmas lights that will be fully powered by solar panels.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, which attracts over 500,000 visitors during the holiday period, will receive over 30,000 LED lights instead of the standard holiday lights that it normally had. This switch from tungsten Christmas lights to LED Christmas lights will have the result of reducing the energy consumption by almost sixty percent. Not only that, but Tishman Speyer, the organizers of the event, have come up with an environmental management plan to reduce the impact of this operation and restore the land from where this tree came from.

The power for the tree’s Christmas lights comes from a new solar power station that is being installed on top of the roof of 45 Rockefeller Plaza. The 363 General Electric Solar panels will be fed back into the building to help reduce the peak energy demand from the grid.

It isn’t the only green initiative announced yesterday. Tishman Speyers also owns the iconic Radio City Music Hall building, and have just announced the installation of an 18,000 square foot green roof on top of that building. The aim is to reduce the overflow of wastewater going into the stormwater system in New York and will have the added benefit of reducing the energy consumption of the building.

Oh, and as for the tree? Once the holiday period is over, it will be transformed into lumber to be used by Habitat for Humanity.

+ Mayor Bloomberg Announces First Ever ‘Green’ Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

+ LED Christmas Lights


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  1. deedee November 29, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    First of all, a few facts. The Norway spruces used for the Rockefeller Center tree are usually around 65-85 years old when chosen. These spruces can potentially live to be 100 or so, but conditions are even more important as they age, and many were planted in “the wrong spot” to begin with. Some of them actually already have damage at the top of the tree or elsewhere when they are chosen and may not live much longer anyway. Because they can be 40 ft. or more in diameter, some have far outgrown their planting spot and may succumb to lack of sufficient water or nourishment, etc.

    Christmas tree farming – a renewable resource – began in 1928 in the US, long before environmentalism was trendy. Christmas trees are recyclable (many communities offer mulching services) and renewable. There are more than 500,000 planted and continuously renewed acres of Christmas trees in the US, which supply enough oxygen for more than 9 million people a day year in and year out because they are always replanting! Thus the industry provides oxygen, while also employing more than 100,000 workers annually.

  2. Canadian June 10, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    I’m a Canadian too, and I object to the previous user acting like he represents Canadians. I find it appalling that such a beautiful tree, perhaps hundreds of years old, is cut down for a Christmas tree. Such trees, whether they be American or Canadian, are part of the earth, the world, and our history. Glorifying in the death of such a wondrous tree only adds insult to injury. I, for one, will never visit Rockerfeller Center.

  3. aaron January 6, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I’m afraid they don’t have the room underground to properly plant a tree with its giant roots.
    Fake tree is the way to go, if so…
    question only: environental impact of cutting a tree vs. production of such a gigantic plastic tree??

  4. Tim December 21, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    How can powering it by solar panels be considered ‘green’? If the solar panels are powering the tree ONLY for 2 months out of the year, then they are doing nothing the rest of the year. I know this is not the case, i’m sure they actually use the panels to feed the grid the rest of the time. But if you look at it from a big perspective, they are using panels that could power the grid for 12 months out of the year to only power it 10 months out of the year and the other 2 months are wasted on this tree. Hardly sounds green to me,,,

    Oh well, me sitting here on my laptop writing this is wasting energy also. Just something to keep in mind.

  5. Tânia December 18, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    Why using natural trees? If the result. after decorated is almost the same if using a industrial one?
    Here in Brasil we practicaly dont have anymore that kind of pine…. and be sure my christma´s tree is very beautiful!

  6. michelle December 11, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    We should not be wasteful, but at the same time, you guys who are complaining about the trees are simply being brainwashed by the media. There are more trees now than there ever has been. They grow at a faster rate than they are being cut down. I have an artificial tree simply because it is more convienient. If you are worried about things like saving trees and electricity, why not sell your computer, television, and lights and switch to candlelight. Remember, you can’t read books either because they are made from paper from trees. Its the holiday season, why not enjoy it and be merry. Don’t forget what Christmas is really all about. Its not about trees and presents, its about Jesus Christ and we should focus on that instead of worrying about a tree.

  7. Nathan Pardy December 2, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    haha, I see your point Ren!, good point too, NYC cut’s down a very ancient and very healthy tree, too put LED Lights on it.. interesting isn’t it?. They might plant one permanetly some day. They’d plant a new one if it didn’t tree’s so long to grow.

  8. ren November 29, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    just to reply to
    A Canadian
    I’m Canadian too! hey hows it going. My point is that there are a finite number of hundreds of year old trees lying around. If we cut one down every year we are bound to deplete the available stock. So all the fuss is not over just one tree. We are nearing 80 and this is just for the rocker feller plaza. There are tones of other places around the world that practices the ancient tree arboricide yearly. The white house has one California has one.

    I like Jills Idea of transplanting her tree, I believe that she is an amazing person for it. It takes a lot of work to transplant a big tree and nurturing it yearly. Hats off to you, I am very proud of you.

    I think If large public events could take this post
    into consideration would be awesome! It would illustrate how much product we consume and dispose of, show recycling at it s finest and truly be a green presenattion, inspiring a whole generation tp really go green.

    I not against tradition but at one point we have to realize that we are allot of people practicing the same customs yearly, one simple harmless act multiplied by our astounding number. I just think we have to realize it.
    Have any of you ever driven around your neighborhood the week following Christmas. There are 5-6 bags of garbage by the road in front of each house a dried up tree recycling bins filled to the brim. Sure I use an artificial tree but yeah there is a huge amount of trash byproduct at my curb. I’m not lecturing – I’m realizing how huge this is

    Heck I’m French Canadian, we “traditionally” have turkey on thanks giving Christmas and new year, I’m surprised that there are still turkey in the world and amazed that they are not inbred beyond recognition.

    just an everyday jaded optimist, hoping for a better future

  9. Kissabells November 28, 2007 at 9:42 pm

    Why can’t they just plant a christmas tree there to be seen all year round like we do here in naw’lens (new orleans) once we have a tree in a pot (of course) we decorate it for christmas, mardi gras, easter, saints season, halloween. There is all occassions to decorated a tree so why kill it ya’ll?

  10. A Canadian November 27, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    You guys are such a bunch of city kids… getting all worked up over a tree. Geez.

  11. maya November 27, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    chicago actually has a much better sysytem, instead of cutting one old growth fir,
    they use thirty or so young, farm grown trees and arrange them to form a larger tree…
    doesn’t look as natural but once you get the ornaments and lights on you can barely tell.

    i am a bit disappointed with san francisco, they also use one large tree and then drill extra branches into it.

  12. Brie November 27, 2007 at 4:53 am

    This is such a difficult one. I agree with all the above and also Jills point about gradual steps are better then none but as a carnivore I manage to replace my giult buy eating more vegan dishes and limiting my meat consumption and recycle all in my gradual way mind you I am not perfect or call myself an environmentalinst just an aware human trying to leave smaller foot prints before I am gone. Back to the tree. It really saddens me that they do cut down a tree that took perhaps hundreds of years to grow, if we started putting lights on our dead loved ones would that make death more celebratory? How about bulbs on granma or an angel on uncle Bobs head after his fatal heart attack, it just makes me sad. Planting a tree would be a fantastic idea, every year it would be like seeing an old friend or a family member. Imagine your childens children going to see the exact same tree that their great grand parents did, the EXACT same tree, now that is a special Holiday!

  13. Jill November 26, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    Hey Ren & Anna-

    I totally agree with both of you here about the practice of cutting down trees for Christmas. I personally get a live Christmas tree every year which I replant, because I think the killing of tree for holiday decorations is wasteful and sad:

    However, you can’t expect people to change practices that are so ingrained over night. Example: personally I’m vegan and I think all people who call themselves ‘environmentalists’ should be vegan – but I don’t lecture people about this, and I don’t ban the portrayal of wool or leather goods on Inhabitat, because I know its not effective to be didactic and people need to make gradual changes.

    You have to give credit to Rockefeller Center for small steps in the right direction. They have drastically lowered their energy consumption with the solar power and the new LED lights, and that is not insignificant. Lets hope next year they take it a step further and start considering getting a live tree that they can use year after year.

    Editor-in-chief of Inhabitat

  14. ren November 26, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Amen sister!

  15. anna November 26, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    i am also appalled with this entry. i actually watched the ‘today show’ one morning when they did a feature on which ‘lucky’ tree would grace rockefeller plaza this year. The same show featured anne curry and the other hosts broadcasting from across the globe. north pole, anatarctica, etc. to bring attention to global warming. five minutes later they show the tree that is about to be cut down and then have the balls to say that they cut it down by hand so they could save electricity. i’m completely disgusted and instead of praising the use of led lights inhabitat should be protesting the trees being cut down in the first place.

  16. ren November 25, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Ok am the only one who has a problem with this?

    Ok sure led lights self sustaining and all is green, good. But each year one of these giant Norway spruce 75 to 90 feet tall gets cut down. These things takes ages to grow. This tradition has been going on since 1931. So this years “green” spruce is the 76th ancient spruce taking a fall. These tree were obviously healthy enough to be displayed. My question is when are they really going to go “green” and set up an artificial tree or dig deep and transplant one of these suckers for good.

    Come one any one else see this as being slightly absurd?

  17. AXON » Blog Archi... November 24, 2007 at 4:22 pm

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    […] Will You Be Going Green This Xmas Published November 23, 2007 Environment / Sustainability The christmass tree at the Rockefeller is.  All LED lights powered by solar panels.  Posted on […]

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