Green Retrofits for Some of Our Nation’s Most Iconic BuildingsJul 7th, 2009 | By derekgordon | Category: New York, What's News
When does a trend become the new status quo? 2009 will have to be considered a major turning point for the green building industry. Fresh off the news that the iconic Sears Tower (soon to be renamed Willis Tower) is set to undergo a $350 million dollar green retrofit; just reported is the Empire State Building’s similar self improvement mission. Much of the Empire State Building’s concern is curbing greenhouse gas emissions and saving on energy cost as they will be placing insulated windows throughout the building. Out of the $120 million project, $13.2 has been allotted for investment in green technology, which they expect to be paid off in savings over the next four years.
Why so much attention to sustainability? The simple answer is that tenants are using their dollars as votes for or against the direction these landmarks are pursuing. Take this quote from an Associated Press article written by Chris Kahn:
Many high-profile tenants won’t even consider moving into a property without the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, said Allan Skodowski with Transwestern management group. They may not even know what the certification means, he said, but they demand it nonetheless.
“They say ‘We want LEED,’” Skodowski said, “and that’s it.”
Social and political pressure to improve our infrastructure is working. Whether through conferences of like-minded people, design/idea competitions or government initiatives, the world is responding to a very real problem. The greening of the Empire State Building and Sears Tower are incredibly significant ideas that will spur further greening of high profile buildings. To answer the question I posed at the beginning: I believe a trend becomes tradition only when people, business and government are all on the same page. The green building movement may have just crossed that threshold.