Sustainably Speaking: Buildings, a Better Future

Last week, the owners of the Empire State Building announced they were going to turn their iconic New York landmark green — as in sustainable (the color is fine as is)

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As a model for existing buildings, you can't ask for much better than the plan that's been outlined to green the Empire State Building. And for new ones, the Big Apple's most feted building's big move should be an inspiration for how to build more sustainably.

Percent of total U.S. energy consumption used by commercial and residential buildings: 38

Percent of total U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions emitted by commercial and residential buildings: 38

How much the greening of the Empire State Building is expected to cost: $20 million

How much it is expected to save annually: $4.4 million

How many years before the greening costs pay for themselves: under 5

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is getting a facelift -- and part of its remodeling will make it much more energy-efficient. Today The Green Grok looks at how far reducing the carbon footprint of new buildings could go in the climate fight.Image courtesy of Erica Rowell

How much the greening is expected to decrease the building's energy use: 38 percent

How many metric tons of CO2 emissions the greening is expected to cut over the next 15 years: 105,000

Estimated greenhouse gas savings, expressed in terms of an equivalent number of cars taken off the road: 22,000

Percent of U.S. buildings in 2030 that will have been built after 2000: 50

Reduction in CO2 emissions from buildings that is achievable using current best practices: 60 to 70 percent

Minimal savings of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions (year 2000) if current best practices were used to construct these buildings: 15 percent

Proposed target for reducing U.S. CO2 emissions by 2020 in Waxman-Markey discussion bill (relative to 2005 emissions): 20 percent