Step 1: Transforming the Empire State Building

Energy and money were literally flying out of the Empire State Building's double-paned windows: heat was seeping out of the windows in the winter (and cool air in the summer). Replacing the windows would have been extremely costly, and would have created a mountain of wasted materials.

The Empire State Building team devised a program to refurbish each of the 6,514 windows in a custom on-site processing center, reusing more than 96% of existing window glass and making the windows up to 4 times more efficient at keeping heat and air conditioning inside.


The Process:

1 Windows are brought to the Processing Center on the 5th floor, saving money and reducing carbon emissions by not transporting them off-site. They are disassembled and cleaned in a 3-step process to ensure no dust or dirt will be sealed inside.
2 A spacer is inserted, and a layer of heat reflective film is installed between the panes of glass.
3 Windows are filled with an insulating mixture of gases: the exact ratio of krypton and argon gasses varies based on where the windows are on the building and their level of sun exposure.
4 The work crew processes 50-75 windows per day, so the work in tenant spaces is performed literally overnight with no disruption or construction debris.
5 Refurbishment makes the windows up to 4 times more efficient, rendering them nearly as effective as triple paned windows at a fraction of the price (r-factor increase from 2 to 8), and will add an additional 25 years to their life.

Next: Insulated Radiative Barriers