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Lutron Lights Empire State Building, Cutting Payback Time in Half

Lutron Electronics will provide a lighting control system for the Empire State Building’s tenant spaces, expected to save the iconic New York landmark as much as 65 percent in lighting-energy costs.

The Lutron system, developed with Empire State Building property manager Jones Lang LaSalle, includes wireless components, occupancy/vacancy sensors that turn lights off when spaces are unoccupied, and dimming controls that adjust light levels based on available daylight.

Lutron says that, by installing its system, the Empire State Building’s installed payback period for lighting controls was reduced from six years to 2.75 years.

The lighting control system is part of a larger building-wide retrofit to improve energy efficiency, as part of the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Building Retrofit program. The project is designed to reduce the building’s energy use by 38 percent and energy bills by $4.4 million a year, while also preventing 105,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the next 15 years.

In its first year, the energy upgrade has saved the Empire State Building more than $2.4 million, exceeding efficiency guarantees by 5 percent, contractor Johnson Controls and Jones Lang LaSalle said in June. The building has undergone extensive retrofitting to its windows and automation systems since 2009, earning it LEED Gold certification.

In May the Empire State Building announced plans to install an external lighting system that will use 75 percent less energy than its predecessor.

In other lighting retrofit news, Seesmart Technologies announced that New York City commercial property owner SL Green Realty Corp. selected it to install its LED lighting in 21 commercial office properties.

Seesmart will install more than 16,000 LED lamps, replacing incandescent, halogen and fluorescent lights in common areas of the buildings, including lobbies, hallways, stairwells, parking garages, basements and utility rooms — but not tenant space — at office towers including 919 Park, 100 Church St., 125 Park Ave., 420 Lexington Ave. and 919 3rd Ave., according to the company.

The LEDs reduce energy use by more than 50 percent compared to the other lighting technologies, and have a longer lamp-life of more than eight years, which may result in additional savings, Seesmart says.

SL Green expects the retrofit to save $750,000 through combined energy and material/labor savings, resulting in a project payback of just three years. It’s slated for completion in August, and SL Green says it expects the project to be a catalyst for future retrofits, including mechanical, renewable energy and additional LED lighting, at other properties in its portfolio.

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