One might think that a $4.4 million per year savings and a full return on investment in just over 3 years, representing a 38.5 percent total energy savings, a lighting energy reduction of 65 percent using Lutron lighting controls, an Energy Star 90 and LEED EBOM Gold rating would make a highly competitive building owner tempted to keep his magic formula a secret. Not so.
The secrets were unveiled at a press conference on, July 17th held on the renovated observation floor of the Empire State Building. This event might have just as easily been a seminar for building owners hosted by one of New York’s most esteemed building owners, Anthony Malkin, President of Malkin Properties and owner of the iconic structure.
Malkin has a personal commitment to help every building, no matter the owner — to be green and sustainable. He hosted this press event to tout the virtues of wireless energy and lighting controls, and on this particular day, to highlight the Lutron lighting controls that have begun to roll out in, as Malkin likes to say, “the world’s most famous office building.”
“My commitment is whenever somebody is doing work with us that has good impact on us, I want to share that with the rest of the world. The fact of the matter is that if we only succeed at the Empire State Building, we have failed, “says Malkin. “There are hundreds of equivalents of ‘Empire State Buildings’ in New York City and thousands around the world.”
Malkin has dedicated a lot of his time and is committed to the cause of green buildings and sustainability. He and his wife Shelly started a center, “about sustainable, profitable change, scalable for industry in America,” at The Natural Resources Defense Council, where she has been on the board of trustees for over 15 years.
In October of 2006 the Empire State Rebuilding Project was launched with Malkin’s team made up of people from the Clinton Climate Initiative, Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle (a real estate firm) and the Rocky Mountain Institute. “The reality is that what we really focused on initially, is how do we draw attention to the building and differentiate it? What we came to in the end was that it was very important for us to be very green. That was our starting point” said Malkin.
“The big issue for us at the Empire State Building has been to take the building from this international icon — this well-known image on the New York skyline — and actually make the inside of the building relevant,” says Malkin.
Malkin cites that 80 percent of the energy in New York City is consumed by buildings and that most commonly traded commodity in the world as the kilowatt.
“The bottom line is if you approach energy savings, you approach virtually everything: You approach the energy tax, you approach national security, you approach reducing costs, you approach increasing profits, you approach increasing competitiveness and you start to do some really interesting things in the workspace. You start making a more productive and healthier workspace,” says Malkin.
While Malkin feels that Energy Star ratings for measuring energy consumption on a relative basis are one of the best, they are based on an entire building. One thing he learned, he said, is that 50 to 65 percent, depending on the building construction and systems, of energy consumption in buildings actually occurs in tenant spaces. “You’ve got plug-load, you’ve got heating and cooling and you have lighting,” says Malkin.
The team started looking at energy and lighting controls as part of their overall metrics.
“When we start working at the Empire State Building, we are continually trying to dig further and deeper in what we can accomplish a profitable investment toward [sustainable] energy efficiency, Malkin says. “Lighting controls became a huge issue. For us it is very clear that one of the biggest wastes — literally wastes — is lighting. People leave lights on when they’re not present, people get headaches because there’s too much light, on a dark day you turn on the lights and on a bright day you don’t turn off the lights.”
The Empire State Building has a 600,000 square-foot tenant but also has many 3,500 to 15,000 square-foot tenants. “We started confronting this issue of how do we wire all of this stuff and how do we tie all of these systems together,” said Malkin. Because of the challenges of wiring an existing building and the expense of installation, wireless thermostats were chosen.
“We were very fortunate to attract the attention of Lutron and to begin to work with Lutron towards our needs for lighting solutions. We found Lutron, really to be the person, the party, the company that understood what we were trying to accomplish,” said Malkin. Lutron put together a series with wireless solutions that made good economic sense for the Empire State Building.
“We are looking for integrated solutions. We want to touch things as little as possible because every time you touch them there’s a huge labor cost involved.” Integrated controls, is another area that Lutron worked closely with the team.
While the Lutron products being used in the Empire State Building are not new, it was abundantly clear that Malkin is taking a great deal of pride in deploying the solutions that are making a huge difference. So much so, that he hosted this press conference to announce the success of the relationship and continued to say, “What I am really here to talk about today is one of our first launches of products developed here at the Empire State Building, very similar to everything else we’ve done, we don’t own anything of it. We use it, our tenants benefit from it, I get no economic benefit from it whatsoever, it’s commercially available, it works, and it’s a terrific tool and a terrific asset. It’s this whole concept of the wireless lighting controls, which are integrated and make terrific results,” says Malkin.
“I am thrilled to be able to host Lutron here today and to welcome Mike Pessina [Lutron’s President] up here to talk about [this success] and more importantly about products that they have developed, which they will be able to launch out for others to use around the world and the United States.” In closing, Malkin emphasized, “It’s a huge opportunity. This is very inexpensive, high-return stuff.”
Pessina took the podium to discuss the solutions that his team worked on in collaboration with the Empire State Building and the Jones Lang LaSalle teams that yielded an astounding 65 percent of lighting energy savings and yielded a 2.75 year payback in the pre-build tenant spaces.
The solutions included Lutron’s retrofitable, Clear Connect Wireless lighting control technologies: wireless occupancy/vacancy sensors, wireless daylight harvesting sensors and personal local manual dimming controls.
Pessina was quick to point out that the individual worker is important. “Each and every light fixture’s light level can be individually adjusted for each person’s needs. This is very important, since there are people in this space and while energy savings is an important part of things, we still have to improve productivity and comfort while saving energy. We achieve this through personal control,” said Pessina.
Lutron is certainly not new to energy savings through lighting control and the company claims that Lutron systems and products save over 10 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually, worldwide, which is equivalent to about $1 billion of utility costs.
When Pessina was asked if any building could expect a similar 65 percent energy savings through lighting control if deploying the same technology, the answer was an emphatic, “yes.”
Check out the slide show above for more details, stats, specs and pictures of the “pre-built” tenant spaces at the Empire State Building.
Owner of the Empire State Building Anthony Malkin talks about his commitment to going green and why he thinks conserving energy is so important.
Hear from the team that developed the solutions that lead to the savings at the Empire State Building.