When it comes to retrofitting commercial buildings for reduced energy usage, even some of the world’s most famous landmarks can claim impressive results. Recent news reports indicate that energy upgrades to the Empire State Building are going to surpass the building’s expected savings, reaching a 38-percent reduction in energy use within three years. The anticipated savings generated from the project is $4.4 million in annual operating costs.
“The work, which began in 2009 and included improving the tower’s 6,500 windows and an upgrade of its automation systems, has saved $2.41 million in the first full year since most of the work was completed. That is 5 percent above what engineers at Johnson Controls Inc promised as part of their $20 million contract for the work.” – Huffington Post
This news got us thinking, how do some of the other recognizable world landmarks stack up on the energy-efficiency scale? Astonishingly, the answer is quite well. In impressive demonstrations of old embracing new, some of the world’s most historic and famous commercial buildings are taking great strides to reduce their energy costs and lower their carbon footprint.
A recent report from CNN breaks down some of the energy efficient changes being made to these buildings:
London Tower Bridge: Tower Bridge in London is being retrofitted with LED light bulbs that will reduce its energy consumption by 40% The project will be completed by the start of the 2012 Olympics, which are aiming to be the greenest ever.
Vatican City: One thousand photovoltaic panels cover the roof of the Paul VI Audience Hall, which generate enough electricity to meet all heating, lighting and cooling requirements of the 6,300 seat venue.
Empire State Building: All 6,500 windows of the skyscraper are being replaced while the building’s air conditioning and lighting systems are also being upgraded. It’s expected to reduce energy use by more than 35%.
Sydney Opera House: The air conditioning system in the Sydney Opera House has been adapted to utilize sea water from the surrounding harbor.
Eiffel Tower: The Eiffel Tower in Paris has reduced its energy consumption with a low energy LED lighting system. The company behind the project envisions further carbon reductions by growing 600,000 plants on the world famous structure. They claim that 87 tons of CO2 could be removed from the Paris sky each year.
The take-away from this information is that if the buildings that require much more attention in terms of care, preservation and aesthetic detail can find ways to retrofit their energy consumption, modern structures have no excuse for not following in their footsteps.
“These high profile projects can highlight the importance of retrofitting and cause people to think about installing renewable energy systems on the micro level,” says John Alker, director of policy at the UK Green Building Council.
“Relatively speaking, Tower Bridge will save a small amount of energy but this could translate into a quite significant proportion if people can be persuaded to follow,” he adds.