Sheila McNulty Empire State Building goes green

There may not be a big push in Congress for green energy, but the industry still has some keen supporters out there. The Empire State Buiding has become New York City’s biggest commercial buyer of 100 per cent renewable energy. No small feat.

The supervisor of the 2.85m square-foot office building announced on Thursday it is buying 100 per cent wind power from Green Mountain Energy Company. Green Mountain is a leading retail provider of cleaner energy and carbon offset solutions.

Here is what Anthony Malkin, president of Malkin Holdings, which supervises the Empire State Building, said about the decision to sign on for all green power:

It was a natural fit for us to combine 100 per cent clean energy with our nearly completed, ground-breaking energy efficiency retrofit work. Clean energy and our nearly 40 per cent reduced consumption of watts and BTUs gives us a competitive advantage in attracting the best credit tenants at the best rents.

The two year contract is for nearly 55m kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually, which Green Mountain says will avoid nearly 100m pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year. That is the equivalent, it says, of nearly every house in New York State turning off all their lights for a week. Or taking about 40m fewer cab rides. Or planting nearly 150,000 trees – more than 6 times the number of trees in Central Park.

The purchase is more than double the amount of renewable power that any other commercial customer in New York City is currently buying.

The Empire State Building in July unveiled a $2m interactive, multi-media sustainability exhibit at its visitor’s center, which showcases its $20m energy retrofit project to make the building more energy efficient.

Given how the lack of national carbon legislation and failure to pass a federal renewable porfolio standard have tarnished the US’ green energy credentials, the country can take heart that visitors to one of its most popular tourist attractions will see private industry is still moving forward to limit US carbon emissions.