The Empire State Building, next to the Statue of Liberty, is probably the most recognizable structure in New York. Tourists flock to it, residents see it nearly everyday and speaking from personal experience, virtually every child in a New York school goes on a tour of it at least once in his K-12 life. So I was thrilled to learn about some of the recent changes to the landmark that have made it even better.
One of the great things about this building is how it's lit up at night. If the Rangers Rangers win a game, it’s colored red and blue. If it’s St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a vibrant green. Combined with all the tourists that go through it daily, that’s a lot of energy being used for just one building.
Last year's renovations, however, have made it possible for the building to save 20% of the energy used by the 20,000 workers and 3.5 million annual visitors.
Some of the changes are new elevators that harvest energy with regenerative braking, lights capable of turning on and off by themselves and the largest wireless network of sensors installed in any building on the planet.
“Saving energy without compromise in performance is what’s going to save the world, and that’s the work we set about doing at the Empire State Building,” chief of the Empire State Realty Trust Anthony Malkin said.
In its first year of the renovation, the Empire State Building has saved $2.4 million dollars. When the full energy renovation is complete, the building will save on average $4.4 million a year, enough to pay for the retrofitting in just three years.
The process started back in 2006 when the planning began, but actual work started in 2009 with work crews installing new insulation between radiators sitting below each of the windows and the building’s outer walls, attempting to keep the heat from escaping during colder months.
Each of the building’s 6,514 windows were taken out and installed with a heat-reflective film between the panes while also injecting krypton and argon for added installation. So as not to disturb workers, this process was done entirely at night. Finally, new LEDs light up the building, not only allowing for more energy efficiency, but a wider range of color designs than before.