It’s great to see that the $550 million refurbishment of the Empire State Building has resulted in the iconic building being awarded an LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council. The retrofit of the building should reduce its energy consumption by more than 38 per cent and save $4.4 million in energy costs a year while reducing the building’s carbon emissions by an estimated 105,000 metric tons over 15 years. The building’s owners have also pledged to acquire carbon offsets totalling 55 million kWh per year of renewable energy in order to make the building fully carbon neutral and have calculated that the energy savings alone will pay back the cost of the implementation of the refurbishment in around three years.
The award also highlights how the refurbishment of an old building, even one that is 80 years old in this case, can transform the energy performance of a property and prove once and for all that refurbishment of an existing building can sometimes prove a much better option than a full relocation. We need to challenge the assumption that modern buildings are better able than older buildings to meet the needs of a modern organisation. Often they are, but in many cases, the refurbishment of older buildings can prove to be a better option.