New York — One of the most ambitious goals of PlaNYC proposals submitted by the New York City government was to reduce Citywide Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by as much as 30 percent by 2030. A closer analysis of the city’s emissions reveals that roughly 75 percent of New York City’s GHG can be attributed to the energy used in buildings, a figure that is more than twice the national average in the United States.
This raises several arguments that favor more environmentally sustainable buildings. But it is difficult both to enforce these stringent norms on construction companies and to find ways to provide expertise in the subject to ensure that builders find sustainable construction methods. Is it possible to construct a building the size of a Manhattan skyscraper and ensure that it meets certain environmentally stringent norms?
The Bank of America Building:
One of New York’s tallest skyscrapers scaling 51 floors and 1.9 million square meters, this building has been accredited with a LEED-Platinum certification — the highest “green building” rating for environmental performance. The building boasts not only its own rainwater catchment system and a grey water recycling capability but also its own 4.6 megawatt cogeneration
plant that serves as source of clean energy to meet the buildings’ requirements. This reduces its reliance on the New York City power grid. Another ingenious innovation is the buildings’ hi-tech cooling system that produces and stores ice during off-peak hours and then uses the “ice phase transition” to cool the building during times when the demand for air conditioning is high.
The Empire State Building:
An integral part of the iconic Manhattan Skyline, the Empire State Building was recently awarded a “LEED-Gold” certification, following its 2-year rebuilding program aimed at reducing the building’s carbon emissions and making the building more environmentally sustainable. Measures such as replacing the aging building’s windows and installing an energy-efficient heating and cooling system is expected to help save nearly $4.4 million in energy costs annually
and reduce consumption by nearly 38%.
The examples cited above are by no means representative of the large shift in building practices in New York City, but they do show that engineering marvels can also be environmental marvels.
Abhishek Dalal is a contributing writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.