Green Business: Empire State Bldg. Gets Green Makeover

Let’s just start calling NYC the Green Apple.

Move over all you shiny new LEED-certified buildings.

There’s a new retrofit in town proving that some things just get better with age.

Like an 81-year old Art Deco landmark.

Sixty-five hundred new windows later (all built on site, how’s that for a short supply chain?), and a whole lot of other upgrades, the Empire State Building is now a case study for successful green retrofitting.


Empire State Building Saves $2.4 Million in Energy Costs After Retrofit

One year after the large-scale retrofitting project was completed, the Empire State Building has surpassed expectations and saved $2.4 million in energy costs. The building saved an estimated 4,000 metric tons of carbon, the equivalent carbon offset of a 750-acre pine forest.

The series of efficiency measures were accomplished through a partnership of the Clinton Climate Initiative, the building owners and a group of organizations including the Rocky Mountain Institute.

See that? Another multi-player partnership.

And what’s more, this project demonstrates ongoing potential for urban green retrofit projects.

According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, buildings are responsible for 40 percent of energy consumed in the U.S. In large cities like New York, commercial buildings make up 75 percent of energy used, meaning retrofit projects can have an even bigger impact. If every commercial building in New York City took on the upgrades that the Empire State Building has, carbon emissions would be reduced by 4 million tons – the equivalent of a typical coal-fired power plant.

Big fish make big waves. When large-scale properties like skyscrapers get greener, they reap huge cost, energy and carbon emission savings that benefit all of us.



Green Government: NY–Use Less Energy. Save Money. Create Jobs

Another reason I Love NY.

Decrease energy consumption. Save money. Create jobs.

Works for me.


NY State to Reduce Energy Consumption 20% by 2016

The state of New York will invest $800 million in government buildings to reduce energy consumption 20% by 2016.

To finance the projects, the New York Power Authority will issue debt, which will retrofit state buildings ($450 million) and local government, schools and public hospitals ($350 million).

Retrofits will not only decrease energy demand, but will create thousands of green jobs, keep money circulating in the local economy, and free up resources for essential services.

Green Insight: You Don’t Need a Nest.

The new Nest “intelligent” home thermostat made my frugal sweater-wearing self quietly sigh. As much as I am all in for emerging energy efficiency technologies, this feels like a shiny-new solution in search of a problem.

Fledged in fall 2011, Nest Labs’ cute, sleek digital thermostat has an Apple pedigree in its family tree. The hook is that a Nest thermostat  “learns” about your home comfort habits and builds a personal temperature schedule over time.

What is so hard about programming 5 settings to cover most families’ weekday and weekend schedules? Do you really need an app for that?


With a simplicity and design that caters to the chic sensibilities of a new generation of homeowners, Nest learns about the occupants’ comfort levels over time as adjustments are entered into the easy-to-use scheduling program. The LCD screen displays when energy is being saved, as well as how much time remains until a new temperature is reached.

The Nest thermostat violates my Not Broke Don’t Fix maxim by seeking to solve the problem that many American homeowners don’t own or use a programmable thermostat to save money and energy.

My $.03:

1. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, call your electrician today and get one. Keeping your home temperature steady 24/7 wastes serious energy and money.

2. Spend five minutes learning how to use your programmable thermostat. Youtube an instruction video. Download the manual. If you can use your DVR function, you are more than capable of this task.

3. Invest the money you would have spent on a Nest on some inexpensive weatherstripping to seal air leaks in your home.

Might be a tempest in a thermos anyway. Giant Honeywell sued Nest in early February for patent infringement. Read the story.

This might be a sound investment for the tech-savvy looking for the home efficiency equivalent of hypermiling. But for most of us? A traditional programmable thermostat and air sealing get the job done.