The world got a little bit greener when the lights of the Empire State Building flickered to life this year: For the first time, the beloved skyscraper and 13 other office buildings owned by the same company were powered solely by wind.
Empire State Realty Trust will announce Wednesday a major purchase of wind power from Green Mountain Energy and Direct Energy, making it the nation’s biggest real estate user of entirely renewable energy.
The three-year contracts, which started Jan. 1, will provide an estimated 300 million kilowatt hours of electricity for ESRT’s more than 10 million-square-foot portfolio. That’s enough to light every home in New York state for a month.
The commercial real estate agency has already established a reputation for sustainability: A decade-long “deep carbon” retrofit enabled the Empire State Building to cut its planet-warming emissions by about 40 percent. The skyscraper itself has run on renewable energy since 2011.
How New York’s most famous landmark cut its carbon emissions by 40 percent
By expanding its renewable energy commitments to its entire portfolio, ESRT will avoid the production of some 450 million pounds of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of removing all New York City taxis from the road for an entire year.
The energy needed to operate buildings is among the nation’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. In New York, buildings generate more than two-thirds of the city’s carbon emissions.
“More and more building owners are understanding the critical role that our skyline plays in tackling climate change and how they can be an important part of the solution,” said Donna De Costanzo, a director for climate and clean energy at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
After the Empire State Building’s “nation-leading retrofit,” she said, the decision to meet its remaining energy needs with renewables is “a significant next step.”
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