Big tenants, landlords switch to greener lights


Ernst & Young expects new LED lights to yield annual savings of $1 million. SL Green will replace 8,000 bulbs at four properties by the end of the month, hoping to reap similar gains.

In an effort to lighten its energy bill, accounting giant Ernst & Young announced Tuesday that it had installed LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs throughout its Times Square office building. The firm calculates that as a result of the switch-over at 5 Times Square, its energy consumption will nearly be halved, for an annual savings of a cool $1 million. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and many others have long beaten the drum for greater energy conservation in commercial buildings, and many new towers have won Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification for their green-ness in recent years, but making similar strides in existing buildings has proven harder. Famously, the Empire State Building has spent millions on new windows,
lighting and more to lower energy use. Ernst & Young, in a far younger building, now joins that group. Meanwhile, the city’s largest commercial landlord, SL Green Realty Corp., is also on board. It expects to finish retrofitting four of its Manhattan buildings with 8,000 LED lamps by the end of the month, having completed a similar effort in its suburban office properties back in the spring. In retrofit projects like these, installation can proceed quickly without the tenants moving out, said Zia Eftekhar, chairman of Philips Lighting North America. which was installed around the structural footprint for the previous florescent and halogen lighting. The effort’s quick payback also helps. Mr. Eftekhar placed the annual rate of return at 50%. And then there are the government incentives to be considered. Of the $2.5 million total that SL Green spent on its two LED installations, it expects to receive $200,000 back from state and utility incentive programs. That cash comes on top of projected savings of $750,000 a year, which are shared by tenant and landlord, according to Jason Black, director of sustainability at SL Green. Savings extend beyond paying smaller bills to the utility companies. Unlike even efficient compact florescent bulbs, LED lights rarely need replacing, which cuts maintenance costs on both labor and materials.

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