Using the famed Empire State Building as a test case and model, four organizations with a shared interest in energy efficiency have combined resources in a unique approach for analyzing and retrofitting existing structures for environmental sustainability. The program is expected to reduce energy consumption by up to 38%.

The organizations are the Clinton Climate Initiative, Rocky Mountain Institute, Johnson Controls, Inc., and real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle, Chicago, IL. Johnson Controls serves as the program's energy services company.

The 78-year-old Empire State Building is currently undergoing a $500 million upgrade to existing systems. Building systems work is slated to be completed by the end of 2010. The balance of the work in tenant spaces should be concluded by end of 2013.

According to sources at Johnson Controls, the project will prove the viability for energy efficiency retrofit projects as ways to dramatically increase building energy efficiency and reduce its overall carbon output with sensible payback periods and enhanced profitability.

The team analyzed the steps to be taken in conjunction with other steps towards sustainability as part of the Empire State ReBuilding program within the framework of the existing United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) rating system. Internal calculations show that the Empire State Building will qualify for GOLD LEED certification for existing buildings, which the building’s owners — Empire State Building Company — say they will pursue.

The project partners used existing and newly created modeling, measurement and projection tools in a new and repeatable process to analyze the Empire State Building and establish a full understanding of its energy use as well as its functional efficiencies and deficiencies.

This provided actionable recommendations along a cost-benefit curve to increase efficiency and without harming bottom line performance.

The team reviewed 60 optional activities, and identified eight economically viable renovation projects, electrical and ventilation system upgrades, and tenant space overhauls that will provide significant returns on environmental and financial investments.

“This project brings to bear every bit of experience, research and innovation we’ve accumulated in our 125 years in this business,” says Iain Campbell, vice president, Johnson Controls. “It’s gratifying to know that just as we point to this building as one of the greatest achievements of our grandparent’s generation, so can our grandchildren point to us,” Campbell says.

The project components to be handled by the four above-mentioned organizations will cost an estimated $20 million, and will result in an approximate $4.4 million in annual energy savings. Upgrades will include:
Window Light Retrofit: Refurbishment of approximately 6,500 thermopane glass windows, using existing glass and sashes to create triple-glazed insulated panels with new components that dramatically reduce both summer heat load and winter heat loss.
Radiator Insulation Retrofit: Added insulation behind radiators to reduce heat loss and more efficiently heat the building perimeter.
Tenant Lighting, Daylighting and Plug Upgrades: Introduction of improved lighting designs, daylighting controls, and plug load occupancy sensors in common areas and tenant spaces to reduce electricity costs and cooling loads.
Air Handler Replacements: Replacement of air handling units with variable frequency drive fans to allow increased energy efficiency in operation while improving comfort for individual tenants.
Chiller Plant Retrofit: Reuse of existing chiller shells while removing and replacing “guts” to improve chiller efficiency and controllability, including the introduction of variable frequency drives.
Whole-Building Control System Upgrade: Upgrade of existing building control system to optimize HVAC operation as well as provide more detailed sub-metering information.
Ventilation Control Upgrade: Introduction of demand control ventilation in occupied spaces to improve air quality and reduce energy required to condition outside air.
Tenant Energy Management Systems: Introduction of individualized, web-based power usage systems for each tenant to allow more efficient management of power usage.

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