Upgrading older and especially iconic buildings is difficult. It can be done, however. Indeed, The U.S. Steel Tower in downtown Pittsburgh recently was updated and upgraded to the extent that it received ENERGY STAR certification.
Commentary at Facility Executive points out that the 47-year-old, 64-story building was designed and built in an era in which energy was inexpensive and efficiency was not a priority. Thus, retrofitting to ENERGY STAR status – and doing so without compromising the building’s iconic elements – was a challenge.
The story says that Winthrop Management committed the building to the Pittsburgh 2030 District challenge in 2013. One element of the challenge is to reduce energy uses to 50 percent below the national average during in 13 years.
Winthrop and evolveEA installed LED lights and variable frequency drive equipment, upgraded HVAC systems and replaced the elevator system. Efforts to work with tenants to cut energy use and to be certified by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) were undertaken.
Another iconic building that recently made a significant energy move is St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The church last month activated what Renewable Energy Magazine calls a “massive” geothermal plant below the structure. The installation is part of a four-year $177 million renovation that is nearing completion.
The story says that the plant consists of 10 wells that reach 2,200 feet underground:
The heart of the system is a bit of technology called a “dedicated heat recovery chiller,” which extracts thermal energy from the underground system of wells and distributes it throughout the campus for heating and cooling purposes.
The system will heat 76,000 square feet of space in the church and adjoining buildings.