It’s not every day you find $4.4 million lying around at the Empire State Building. But that’s how much former President Bill Clinton and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said they expect the Empire State Building Co. to find in annual energy savings after the skyscraper undergoes a green retrofit, slashing energy needs by an estimated 38 percent. Scheduled for completion by the end of next year, the $20 million upgrade rests in the hands of Milwaukee, Wisc.-based Johnson Controls.
If a $20 million investment can deliver savings of this magnitude, why has it taken so long to start plugging the energy drains in the 78-year-old building? Clearly this will do a lot more on the climate and environment front than turning on green-colored lights does.
Part of it has to do with technology. Working with the Clinton Climate Initiative, Jones Lang LaSalle and the Rocky Mountain Institute, Johnson Controls used some new modeling and measurement tools in what the group envisions as a road map for future commercial building retrofits, the Milwaukee Business Journal reports. The team considered more than 60 upgrades for the skyscraper, and ultimately chose eight projects (detailed here on the Johnson Controls site), including window upgrades, daylighting and web-based energy management systems for each of the 302 office tenants.
So many opportunities haven’t been considered over recent decades simply because of reactionary politics on the Right – and opportunism on the Left. This could have been accomplished long ago.