One Building Can Change the World

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JLL was recently honored by the Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings Initiative and National Resources Defense Council for its energy retrofit work at the Northern Trust Center in Chicago, IL. In celebration of this achievement, JLL’s Dana Schneider discusses a replicable approach to retrofitting that JLL piloted with the Empire State Building in New York City. 

ESRThere are nearly one million buildings in New York City, ranging from historic architectural icons like the Empire State Building to newly-built contemporary structures, which draw thousands of visitors each year.

These buildings are more than just tourist attractions, offices, or condos – they are also energy consumers. In major cities like New York, commercial and residential buildings consume over 75 percent of total energy use.

We see this figure as an opportunity. Through a rigorous design process, our team pioneered a sustainability initiative, which created the tools for any building to cost-effectively implement a deep energy retrofit program—a program that reduces energy consumption by nearly 40 percent.

At a high level, the Empire State Building hosts 4.3 million visitors each year and consumes as much energy as 40,000 single family homes in a single day. The energy retrofit now saves the building $4.4 million annually in energy costs, and reduces 105,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the next 13 years—equivalent to removing 25,000 cars from the road. In addition, we retrofitted 6,514 windows in the building, which helps reduce summer heat load and winter heat loss, and retrofitted HVAC systems to optimize the existing building control system. Our retrofits have also helped to stimulate the local economy while creating more than 250 local and regional jobs over the course of the retrofits, from manufacturing to construction and engineering.

The biggest takeaway from the Empire State Building’s program is the replicable model for optimizing energy efficiency, sustainable practices, operating expenses and long-term value in existing buildings. In retrofitting the Empire State Building, we not only wanted to lessen our impact on the environment but, more importantly, to provide an example for developers and governments around the world that sustainability is an economically feasible reality.

80 percent of the buildings that exist in New York City today will still be here in 2050 – so investing capital in making buildings more efficient has become one of the best return on investments an owner can make. Retrofitting existing buildings is the best way for a city to become environmentally sustainable.

If we can achieve this level of success at the Empire State Building, we can do it anywhere. Use the tools that we developed to replicate this process in your own buildings.

Interested in learning more? Contact Dana Schneider or leave a comment.

Schneider DanaDana Schneider leads JLL’s Energy and Sustainability Services (ESS) in a region anchored by New York City, Boston and Washington D.C. Dana led the team that implemented the Empire State Building integrated energy retrofit, and is now replicating this approach in over 100 buildings across the U.S. For Dana’s full bio, please click here.  

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