The caretakers of the Empire State Building have announced a change to a 100% renewable energy source.
The building has been undergoing the largest green building retrofit in the United States, and has now become the biggest commercial buyer of renewable energy in New York City.
A two year contract has been inked with Green Mountain Energy for wind power Renewable Energy Certificates.
The equivalent of around 55 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy each year will now be used at the 2.85 million square foot Empire State Building. This amounts to a saving of nearly 100 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
It should be noted that there is some debate as to just how much Renewable Energy Certificates help to further the cause of renewable energy development in the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides an explanation of what Renewable Energy Certificates actually are, here.
The Empire State Building owners have expressed a desire to make the building a model of energy efficiency, and to demonstrate that sustainability makes for great business. The hope is that other large commercial building owners will follow suit. The $20 million retrofit, while expensive, is expected to reduce energy consumption by about 38 percent, and cut energy expenditure by $4.4 million a year.
Other Green Mountain Energy clients in New York City include the Trump SoHo hotel, the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Archstone Apartments.
For some further background information, here’s a video about changing the Empire State Building into an icon of American sustainability.