Empire State Building Goes Green | Nightly Business Report | PBS | Planet Forward
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Uploaded on Jan 21, 2011
PBS Airdate: January 20, 2011
Retrofitting the Empire State Building (NYC) for energy efficiency will pay for itself in three years. The cost savings of green building renovation.
SUSIE GHARIB: In our "Planet Forward" segment tonight, we head to New York City. We look at how one of the world`s most recognizable buildings is going green. The Empire State building has been a landmark for almost 80 years. But when it comes to office space, it has lots of competition in newer, more energy efficient buildings. Planet Forward`s Frank Sesno walks us through the building`s big makeover and the energy cost savings it achieved.
FRANK SESNO, PLANET FORWARD: What`s old is new again: in this case, possibly the most iconic structure in the world and where innovation now meets energy efficiency and the New York state of mind. Devin Greene, and Kristina Sgueglia, Plant Forward students at the George Washington University heard the Empire State building was getting new windows, so they hit the streets. Just how many windows are there?
SURACE: We took the glass out. We pulled it all apart. We vigorously cleaned it. And we did something else. We re-used all the glass in the building. We took those dual-paned windows and made them R-8. The "R" value is a technical measurement of the resistance to heat flow so the higher the number, the better. Higher "R" value windows are built in a unique way. They have multiple chambers separated by suspended film. That clear film goes in. It goes in with a special set of spacers and other sealants. Then, we fill it with gas. That further improves the "R" value to get all the way to 400 percent improvement.
SESNO: Surace says the renovation can save about $410,000 a year in energy costs.
SCOTT BITTLE, POLICY ANALYST, PUBLIC AGENDA: Commercial buildings are about 18 percent of our total energy use, so it`s a pretty significant slice. The median life span of a commercial building in the United States is something like 70 years. We have to look at things like retrofitting, because we already have a lot of our commercial buildings and we want to keep using them.
SESNO: Surace`s work was part of a $550 million renovation, all of it undertaken because it promises to pay for itself in only three years. Saving green dollars by reducing energy consumption is appealing. But will this type of expensive retrofitting make financial sense for everyone? Is it even possible?
BITTLE: There are something like 4.8 million commercial buildings in the United States, and as of 2007, I think only 4,000 of them met the energy star requirements. All buildings together-- residential and commercial-- actually produce more greenhouse gases in the United States than vehicles do.
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