Green building to receive empire treatment

If you’re hosting a green building property event in New Zealand, you can’t do much better than securing the owner of New York’s iconic Empire State Building, Anthony Malkin, as the keynote speaker. And that’s just what the folks behind the Green Property Summit 2011 have done. 

And while not the Empire State Building might not be the first building to spring to mind when talking about green design, the 102-storey building is actually currently undergoing a US$20 (NZ$26.75) energy saving retrofit, with a goal of saving a maximum of US$4.4 (NZ$5.8) million in energy costs per year, or 38 percent reduction in energy use. 

Work has included removing and upgrading 6,514 windows in the art deco building to make the building more efficient at heating or cooling. Project completion is expected by late 2013 with net extra costs recovered within three years. 

Malkin says the current retrofit hopes to be a model for economic and environmental revitalisation, with its practical focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while creating economic returns that can be measured. 

“The goal with the Empire State Building has been to define intelligent choices which will either save money, spend the same money more efficiently, or spend additional sums for which there is reasonable payback through savings,” he says. 

The Green Property Summit 2011, organised in partnership between the New Zealand Green Building Council and Property Council New Zealand, will showcase marketleading green property initiatives in New Zealand and Australia. The programme features a global green building update, the business case for green building, and examples of sustainable urban development strategy. And in light of the Christchurch earthquake, there’s no doubt valuable rebuilding lessons will taken from the event.

New Zealand Green Building Council chief executive Alex Cutler says the built environment is one of the only sectors where reducing emissions can provide substantial and immediate cost benefits, rather than placing a cost burden on the taxpayer. 

“Demand for integrating green building elements in new and existing stock in New Zealand is increasing. Market behaviour is changing and there are some fantastic examples of Green Star rated properties, but we are still a way behind other countries, including Australia,” says Cutler.

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