Seeing as the Empire State Building uses enough energy in an hour to keep an average light bulb burning for more than 100 years, its owners have begun to retrofit the 81-year-old building in eight key ways in order to reduce energy consumption by at least 38 percent.
Those steps range from installing new weather-resistant windows to new air conditioning units to a plan just unveiled to update the indoor lighting system with smart technology so that lights are on only when absolutely necessary.
"The new system control, which we're announcing today, can reduce total energy consumption by lighting by 65 percent," says Anthony Malkin of Malkin Holdings, the company that owns the Empire State Building.
The system, which is being put together by lighting company Lutron, isn't terribly different from what you may have in your house or office today. It allows every light to be controlled independently with switches and two types of sensors. One is an occupancy sensor to turn lights on or off depending on whether someone's in the room. The other is a daylight sensor.
"What it does is looks at the ambient light coming in from the windows," says Michael Pessina of Lutron. "If there's enough light, it does not allow the lighting fixtures to turn on."
Owners of the Empire State Building say the fact that this system is completely wireless and didn't involve any messy or expensive ripping down of walls and laying new wires is a big part of what made this the most cost-effective solution for this building. It also bodes well for other large, old buildings also looking to go green.
"By using wireless controls, you can relocate them easily, you can install them easily," Malkin says. "It's much, much better and it reduces the costs immensely."
The owners of the Empire State Building are adamant that if a green retrofit can be done there it can and should be done anywhere and everywhere. They're laying out all their plans online at www.ESBTour.com to serve as an inspiration or even a guideline for building owners everywhere.