Empire State Building to Meet Electricity
Needs Though Wind Power
Jan 25, 2011 - Suzanne Goldenberg
The Empire State Building, which has
been undergoing a $20m energy saving retrofit, today
announced that it would meet all its electricity
needs through wind power.
In a two-year deal, the building will buy 55m kilowatt
hours worth of renewable energy certificates a year – the
equivalent of its annual energy needs – from
the Texas-based Green Mountain Energy Company.
That is more than double the amount of renewable
power purchased by any other commercial customer
in New York City, the announcement said.
It said reductions in carbon emissions from the
shift to wind power for the 102-storey building were
the equivalent of turning off the lights in nearly
every house in New York State for a week.
Tony Malkin, the president of Malkin Holdings, which
runs the Empire State, dismissed the idea that he
had set out to "green" the building, noting
that Green Mountain had come in with the lowest bid
to supply power.
"Everything we are doing at the Empire State
building is based on the market price, demonstrating
you can have efficiency at the same or at lower cost," he
The building, constructed in the throes of the Great
Depression 80 years ago, reigned for more than 40
years as the tallest building in New York. Following
the destruction of the World Trade Centre in the
9/11 attacks, it is again the tallest in the city.
But in recent years, its grandeur had faded, and
in 2009 Malkin undertook a $550m renovation project
including the energy retrofit.
During the rehab, workers installed smart controls
for heating and cooling, and stripped out the building's
6,500 windows to add insulating films.
Some environmental groups have questioned whether
renewable energy certificates represent a true reduction
in carbon emissions, short of compelling companies
to build new wind power plants to meet increased
But Malkin argued there was a strong symbolic value
of having the Empire State shift to wind energy.
"There is no way to be certain that the power
I paid for actually shows up at my building, but
it certainly displaces other power that is not green," he
"I am persuading an economic incentive for
people to promote more clean power, and I am causing
people to think: 'Gee, should I really be investing
in the manufacture of non-clean power?'"