City’s Law Tracking Energy Use Yields Some Surprises

The City’s program to track energy use in large commercial buildings has some interesting results. Some new LEED buildings aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. In a city where buildings use far more energy than cars, and 2% of the buildings account for 45% of that energy expenditure, this stuff matters.

On the other hand, two venerated show horses from the 1930s, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building, sailed to an [Energy Star rating of] 84 and an 80 as a result of extensive upgrades of their insulation and mechanical systems.

By comparison, Lever House, a 1954 International Style glass tower, scored a 20. Keeping in mind that none of these buildings were built with energy efficiency in mind, it makes sense that a wall that is more than 50% masonry (as at Chrysler and ESB) will have better thermal properties than a wall of glass. (Lever House’s curtain wall was replaced within the past 10 or 15 years, so it is a somewhat apt comparison to the recently upgraded ESB – Seagram, which retains its original 1958 glass-and-metal facade, scored a 3!)