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What is this project all about?

Over the past year, a team of 5 key players (Clinton Climate Initiative, Empire State Building, Jones Lange LaSalle, Johnson Controls, and Rocky Mountain Institute) has developed an integrated sustainability program, including energy efficiency facility improvement measures for the Empire State Building. In doing so, the team has created a model for developing deep retrofit projects in large multi-tenant office buildings, both new and historic, that can be applied throughout the world.

Why is the Empire State Building ownership undertaking these retrofits?

Empire State Building ownership is doing this project to demonstrate that a commercially attractive retrofit program can lead to significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The energy retrofit opportunities also correspond well to required infrastructure upgrades initiated in 2007 as part of a larger capital program.

How was the specific package of retrofits chosen?

Using a rigorous 8-month iterative design process, the team narrowed down 60+ ideas to a package of 8 recommended projects that provides the optimal balance of financial and environmental return on investment. Small and large workshops, presentations to ownership, and deliverables helped to keep the team on track over the eight-month period. Following the initial 8-month project development phase, a detailed 3-month budget and scope review with the owner secured final program approval for implementation. The recommended package of 8 projects:

  • Addresses the building windows, radiators, DDC control systems, central chiller plant, air handlers, air handler controls, tenant space design, and tenant energy management;
  • Has an incremental cost of $13.2 million (beyond what must be spent for required infrastructure upgrades);
  • Saves a maximum of $4.4 million in annual energy costs (which is equivalent to a 38 percent energy use reduction, excluding broadcasting); and
  • Requires the active engagement of an ESCO (JCI), the building owner (ESB), and building tenants to achieve the maximum energy reduction of 38 percent.

What is an ESCO?

Major Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) retrofit buildings according to owners' investment criteria (maximum capital outlay, maximum payback period, minimum ROI, etc.) and use the generated annual energy savings to pay for the upfront investment. Major ESCOs include Johnson Controls, Chevron Energy Solutions, Trane, Carrier, Siemens, TAC, Ameresco, and Noresco.

ESCO services and performance contracts vary amongst companies, yet major activities generally include investment grade audits, equipment inventories, engineering and design services, contracting, financing, installation, commissioning, training, measurement & verification and post-construction services. An ESCO need not manufacture building energy equipment.