You know that when one of the world’s most famous skyscrapers goes green, the future of energy efficient buildings has been changed forever. Earlier this year, it was announced that the Empire State Building would begin a $20 million retrofit of its iconic structure, leading to a 40 percent reduction in energy usage.
In addition to office buildings and landmarks such as the Empire State, thousands of residential buildings throughout Manhattan and the other four boroughs have followed suit with major “green” upgrades, thanks to government-funded programs and incentives that have made saving energy good for both the planet and the bottom line.
“Anyone who has eyes in their head has seen real progress in green buildings and energy in recent years,” says Nancy Anderson, executive director of The Sallan Foundation, a non-profit organization with a mission “to improve the urban environment by advancing useful knowledge for greener, high performance cities.”
The reasons behind this change are many, Anderson says. State and local legislators have enacted new measures, such as the requirement that municipal buildings and other buildings that get money from the city must meet LEED Silver standards. In addition, there have been state and local partnerships with non-profit organizations such as Enterprise and the Clinton Foundation to raise funds to build affordable green housing, while also securing the dollars necessary to help multi-family residential buildings, including co-ops and condos, become more energy efficient. Partnerships such as these have led to new building projects including recently announced affordable housing developments in the South Bronx. Specifically, the Forest Houses development, which will contain 100 affordable housing units will incorporate green, energy-saving design features and strategies throughout the building.
“Municipal innovators and early adopters, advocates, financiers, and property owners all see this as a responsible thing to do and also as good business,” Anderson says. “Property owners have begun to understand that there’s a measurable market value in energy efficient buildings.”