Still Going Green
...systems, and replacing roofs with ones able to support solar platforms.
Rehabbing existing buildings with new construction down, a greater premium is placed on existing buildings. Economic downturns often cause people to stay in their current location and upgrade their facilities, says Croxton. His firm is designing a multi-phase conversion of a 1880s textile mill building into an office headquarters for Isles, a nonprofit community development and environmental organization, in Hamilton Township, N.J. Green features include renewable energy, expansive day lighting, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, green materials, water recycling, and healthy open spaces.
“The recession has slowed down all new construction, and refocused [interest] on existing buildings,” adds Bell, adding that New York has approximately 980,000 buildings. “That’s where environmentalists and city officials are focusing attention on sustainability.”
Bell pointed to the $500 million upgrade at the Empire State Building as an example of greening of an existing structure. The landmark’s owners aim to reduce energy consumption by nearly 40% through new glazing, adding radiator insulation, daylighting, installing energy efficient air handlers, retrofitting chillers, and other upgrades, saving an estimated $4.4 million annually. The team will seek LEED-Gold certification for existing buildings.
The number of LEED-registered existing buildings has grown, with more than half of the 3,767 occurring in 2008 and 2009, 1,420 and 497 respectively. Currently, there are 290 existing building certified structures.
“Greening our existing building stock will make money and will also meet 85% of the new energy demand through 2030,” says Ashley Katz, spokesperson for the U.S. Green Building Council. “We are turning our focus to the existing building market.”
In the Garden State, Florence Block, executive director of the USGBC New Jersey, also reports growth in green renovations.
“Retrofit requires less in cost to be compliant and qualify for incentives,” Block says. “There are millions of dollars out there to encourage people to do these things.”
Amann says his firm has stayed busy conducting energy audits, assessing water use and making recommendations to conserve. M&E Engineers is replacing chillers and cooling towers for Verizon in New Brunswick.
Perkins+Will’s Syrett says greening an existing building carries more than just a financial benefit.
“The greenest thing one can do is use what you already have,” Syrett says.
U.S. Green Building Council