Canadian Consulting Engineer

Empire State Building goes radical green

The Empire State Building in New York is going to use 100% clean energy. The landmark's owners, Malkin Holdings, have signed a contract with a wind energy company, Green Mountain, to buy nearly 55 million kilowatt hours every year. The result,...

January 10, 2011   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Empire State Building in New York is going to use 100% clean energy. The landmark’s owners, Malkin Holdings, have signed a contract with a wind energy company, Green Mountain, to buy nearly 55 million kilowatt hours every year. The result, they say, will be the avoidance of 100 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. That reduction is equal to what would happen if every house in New York State turned off all their lights for a week.

Built in 1931, the iconic art deco tower is also undergoing a major energy retrofit. As part of that retrofit, its 6,500+ windows are being remade using the existing frames and glass, but adding special gas fill, new spacers and coated film to make them more energy efficient. A company called Serious Materials set up a workshop to retrofit the windows, and Johnson Controls is leading the energy retrofit,. It is costing $20 million and expected to cut the building’s energy use by 40%.

While recasting the building as green, the owners of the 2.85-million square foot office building have  included a multi-media sustainability visitors’ centre on the second floor.

The tower rises 1,454-feet and 102 storeys high at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. It was reinstated as the city’s tallest tower after the destruction of the World Trade Centre in 9/11.

Its mast was originally designed as a mooring mast for airships, but that didn’t work out when it was discovered that fierce updrafts from the building itself made docking impossible.

A twin-engine Army Air Corps B-25 bomber crashed into the 70th floor of the building in dense fog in 1945, causing a fire that was extinguished within an hour. Fourteen people died, and one of the plane’s engines fell down an elevator shaft.

The tower has 70 elevators and about 21,000 people working in it at present.


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