From Green Right Now Reports
New York City’s hallmark Empire State Building, which is undergoing a major green remodeling, will now become the city’s biggest commercial buyer of renewable energy.
The skyscraper’s owners have signed a two-year contract with Green Mountain Energy, which will supply the facility with 100 percent green power by buying Renewable Energy Certificates.
“It was a natural fit for us to combine 100% clean energy with our nearly completed, ground breaking energy efficiency retrofit work,” said Anthony E. Malkin, president of Malkin Holdings, which supervises the Empire State Building.
The energy contract calls for the building to purchase 55 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of renewable energy annually, which will avoid nearly 100 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year. That will have an effect equivalent to planting nearly 150,000 trees – - more than six times the number of trees in Central Park, according to a news announcement.
Malkin said he hopes the green energy deal will give the building an edge in attracting the “best credit tenants at the best rents.”
The power purchase will place the Empire State Building at about No. 18 on EPA’s national Top 100% Green Power Purchaser List of businesses that meet 100 percent of their domestic electricity use with renewable power.
Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) provide a way of buying green power in places where it is not available directly. In the Northeast, wind power is just getting started with off-shore projects still in the planning and permitting phases and the nascent solar and geothermal industries are not commercially scalable at this time.
But power companies, like NRG Energy, the owner of Austin-based Green Mountain Energy, can sell RECs that support green power elsewhere on the national grid. This system is designed to help power purchasers support and use green power in any locale. Their purchases can expand demand for green power and provide the cash input to add green power providers to the grid, for instance, by supporting wind farms in areas of the country where projects are more feasible and more developed.
Critics of RECs say they do not always fulfill their promise of expanding green energy. (For a fuller discussion of the topic see the EPA’s clean energy REC explainer.)
The 2.85 million square-foot office building has been retrofitted with state-of-the-art heating and cooling systems, new highly insulated windows and other elements that make it more energy efficient.The redo is expected to cut the building’s energy usage by around 38 percent.