Earlier this month, President Obama unveiled the Better Building Initiative (BBI), a public-private partnership that will invest $4 billion toward making federal and commercial office buildings more energy-efficient.
400 Market Street, an 11-story Philadelphia office tower built in 1972, is already serving as a model for how owners of hundreds of older, mid- and high-rise buildings throughout the Northeast and Midwest can reap the benefits of the program.
The 200,000 sf building, home to Philadelphia’s high-powered KWY-AM radio station, was recently renovated with a new HVAC system and a state-of-the-art window retrofitting system called RENOVATE by Berkowitz. According to energy modeling studies conducted with the U.S. Department of Energy’s most sophisticated energy modeling software, a typical 10- to 15-story office building like 400 Market Street could realize significant energy savings.
Developed by J.E. Berkowitz, a glass fabricator based in Pedricktown, N.J., the system works by converting existing single-pane windows into energy-saving, triple-glazed insulating glass units (IGUs) at a cost that is up to 50 percent less than ripping out and replacing old windows with new ones.
The window renovation system also has the benefit of being much faster and less disruptive to install. Berkowitz said the retrofit project for 400 Market Street took about 50 working days, which is two to three times faster than it would have been for a traditional “rip-out-and-replace” project for a similarly sized building. In addition, because the retrofitting was completed indoors, tenants were able to remain in their offices throughout the project. That is not possible with traditional window retrofitting solutions.
The BBI, which was first announced in January 2011, was developed to increase the energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20 percent by 2020. Under the BBI, 60 private companies, municipal leaders and labor organizers have agreed on a plan to invest $2 billion of private capital to improve commercial, industrial, and manufacturing property. President Obama authorized the government to move forward with another $2 billion in energy-efficiency upgrades to federal buildings, which will be paid for by the long-term savings that the upgrades will provide. BD+C