The Greening of the Empire State Building

The Greening of the Empire State Building

The Empire State Building Speaks! Efficiency Now … It's Never Been More Important.

I believe in karma. What was announced today must be karma.

To understand, rewind to almost exactly 79 years ago -- March 1930. It was one this country's most economically depressing times. Business was in shambles and consumer confidence was waning. Two business titans got together as sort of a competition and to help restore confidence and strength in America. Walter Chrysler (Chrysler Corp.) and John Jakob Raskob (creator of General Motors) decided to see who could build the tallest building, and the Empire State Building in New York came into existence.

Fast forward and our world is facing some economic challenges, our automotive industry is struggling and we consumer confidence is waning. So what else would we do but something similar in scope to what was done 79 years ago.

Today, April 6, we announced the "Empire State Building Leadership in American Progress in Sustainability" project. It promises to make the world's most famous office building a world leader in energy efficiency and sustainability.

At Johnson Controls we are pleased to be collaborating on the project with the Empire State Building Company, Jones Lang LaSalle and two of the world's leading organizations focused on sustainability: Rocky Mountain Institute and Clinton Climate Initiative.

Together, we're developing a $20 million sustainability project to complete upgrades to the Empire State Building that will include:

• Refurbishing windows to make them substantially more energy efficient
• Improving the insulation behind existing radiators to reflect more heat into the office space
• Installing a new state-of-the-art energy management control system
• Rebuilding or replacing HVAC equipment with new high-efficiency features
• Providing tenants with an online tool to help them track and manage their individual energy usage

Upon completion -- in about two years -- we'll have reduced energy usage in the building by 38 percent and energy costs by $4.4 million per year. Greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 105,000 metric tons for over the next 15 years. Most importantly, the project team has collaborated to develop and implement an economically viable combination of innovative approaches to infrastructure projects, design standards, tenant energy management, property management, and leasing and marketing initiatives that will be a model for the industry.

Karma. Just like 79 years ago there was a drive to do something good during bad times.

Likewise, this project will be good for the owners because it will make the building more valuable, help increase occupancy rates and reduce the need for future capital projects.

It will be good for tenants because their operating costs will be lower, their environments more comfortable and their employees more productive.

It will be good for the world, because our template (available at can be used over and over again to lower the energy usage and environmental impact of commercial buildings around the globe.

And we're starting with what is certainly one of the most recognizable and beloved buildings anywhere - the building named after the great state that it calls home: the Empire State Building.

Johnson Controls has always stated that improving energy efficiency is the first and most important step toward achieving sustainability in buildings and homes. Energy efficiency helps control rising energy costs, reduces environmental footprints, and increases the value and competitiveness of buildings.


Efficiency now. It's never been more important.

Iain A. Campbell is vice president and general manager of North America Service and Global WorkPlace Solutions for the building efficiency division of Johnson Controls Inc.

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Image by arturodonate.