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Commercial Applications

Case study: The Empire State Building

Lutron helps the Empire State Building set a new standard for sustainable, commercial renovation

In new commercial construction, sustainable building practices are becoming the norm, but, when it comes to renovating the more than 81 billion square feet1 of existing office space in the world, owners and property managers face a process that can be much more difficult to navigate.
Ownership of the Empire State Building Company (ESB) has partnered with service providers and vendors to test and prove processes and products2 and provide guidelines for energy efficiency retrofits in existing buildings. Using its platform as the World’s Most Famous Office Building and its leadership in energy efficiency, ESB draws attention to pathways which are both
Corner office at night - as the sun sets, light automatically brighten
economically viable and environmentally sustainable, and available for any building, anywhere in the world. How better to set a new standard than to start with the revitalization of the world’s most recognizable structure... the Empire State Building.

Anthony Malkin of the Empire State Building Company is refreshingly upfront about his conviction that sustainability is multi-faceted, “When we spend money, we want to be responsible stewards of the environment, but have to keep return on investment (ROI) top of mind. If a business is not profitable, it is not truly sustainable. At ESB, we want to create a road map for efficient retrofits and work with leading vendors who can create products that can help us reach our goals. Lutron has done that for light controls and developed a product we use, and any company can utilize in its renovation plan.”

Corner office midday – bright daylight illuminates the space, lights automatically dim to minimum levels.
The Right Steps in the Right Order
Working with the team of Clinton Climate Initiative, Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle, and the Rocky Mountain Institute, ESB approached the building retrofit process by defining the right steps in the right order. Starting with the building core, engineers first worked to control building loads by eliminating potential for wasted energy.
Every window in the facility was refurbished, radiative barriers were added to the exterior walls, and a more efficient lighting design was adopted to reduce lighting power density from 1W/Ft2 to .7W/Ft2. ESB’s overarching goal is to reduce energy use by more than the 38% guaranteed by its performance contract with Johnson Controls, Inc. when compared to a building that meets ASHRAE 90.1 code. Lighting in commercial buildings generally accounts for 39% of total building electricity use. By reducing lighting electricity use up to 65%2, Lutron light controls go a long way to helping ESB meet their efficiency goals.
To promote even greater energy savings, wireless occupancy sensors communicate with the Lutron dimming ballasts and the HVAC system, to turn lights off and reduce HVAC energy use when the space is unoccupied. Jones Lang LaSalle, project manager of ESB’s “Empire State ReBuilding” program, and Lutron, compared Lutron occupancy sensor strategies to simple time clock
Corner office mid-morning – soft daylight illuminates the space, lights automatically dim to mid-range levels, providing the ideal balance of daylight and electric light
control, and found that by turning lights off in unoccupied areas during typical work hours, and not just after hours, the building saves nearly 38% more lighting electricity than it would with time clock control.

Exterior View of the Empire State Building, The Empire State Building design is a registered trademark and used with permission by ESBC
Daylighting addresses the opportunity to control light levels and energy use during work hours, but what about nighttime light levels? Common practice for night lighting involves keeping 20-25% of fixtures on at 100% light for security. The Lutron digital solution enables uniform night lighting throughout a space, but at very low levels such as 10% light output. This strategy uses
less energy, while delivering a safer, more aesthetically appealing and inviting space.

Beyond just performance, flexibility and energy savings in tenant spaces, wireless control reduces installation and operating costs to deliver an ROI under three years. “ROI is so important to meeting our goals, and to creating a replicable blueprint for success,” explains Dana Robbins Schneider of Jones Lang LaSalle, “When we first started investigating and testing light control solutions, we could meet our performance requirements, but we were facing a 6 year payback. An integrated, wireless and digital control solution from Lutron reduced that time period to 2.75 years, while enhancing building performance and flexibility.”

The Empire State Building design is a registered trademark and used with permission by ESBC.

1Energy Information Administration, 2003 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey. Building Characteristics Tables, released December 2006. Online. Retrieved from

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