Empire State Building Realty Trust Now 100% Powered by Wind
For nearly 100 years, the Empire State Building has stood as a testament to the industriousness and economic power of the United States. Now, it can also be considered a beacon for the future of sustainable energy. Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT) signed a deal in early February to convert the Empire State Building, along with all of its other real estate holdings, to 100% renewable energy.
ESTR is working with Green Mountain Energy to purchase renewable power equivalent to its entire real estate portfolio for the next three years, according to a press release. This newfound commitment emerged after success in a 10-year partnership with Green Mountain Energy to supply the Empire State Building with renewable energy. In 2011, the building went under massive renovations to bring it up to the latest standards in green energy and technology. This retrofit created a 40% reduction in energy use and emissions for the skyscraper. Now, ESTR is ready to bring that change to the rest of its properties in New York, Connecticut, and surrounding areas.
Commercial buildings are a leading consumer of non-renewable energy, accounting for 35% of total electricity use in the U.S. and 16% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the country. Unfortunately, only 2% of the nation's renewable energy goes to commercial buildings, as compared to 7% in residential and 22% in industrial sectors. Without leaders in the commercial space switching to renewables, this trend is likely to continue.
However, ESTR is trying to change the course of renewables in the commercial sector. By switching their entire portfolio to wind energy purchased from Green Mountain Energy, they estimate a reduction of nearly 450 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from their properties. They will also become the biggest investor in renewable energy in the real estate industry with this partnership.
ESTR is Investing in the Economic and Environmental Future
ESTR's properties throughout the Northeast will not be directly powered by wind energy from Green Mountain Energy. Instead, Green Mountain will ensure that an equivalent amount of energy used by the Empire State Building and other holdings will be produced throughout the U.S. This not only reduces the nation's environmental footprint but provides access to sustainable energy to areas that could otherwise not afford such an investment.
This is a major step forward in New York City's commitment to divesting fossil fuels. In 2018, the city decided to file lawsuits against several major fossil fuel companies directly contributing to the climate crisis. They also decided to divest the city's pension funds from fossil fuel companies and reserve owners. To celebrate, the Empire State Building glowed green from its peak to show support for the mayor's decision.
However, ESTR knows it's not just the sustainable choice to switch to green energy -- it's also the most economical. Cyndy Reynolds, commercial sales director for Green Mountain Energy, explains that the deal was made based on a competitive rate structure just as much as it was for environmental factors: "When you have someone like ESRT who you know is going to look at every facet, whether it's cost or reliability, and they decide to move forward … it's not just a PR play at that point...It truly does check the boxes of all the business metrics they have."
Green Mountain Energy focuses on wind energy production, which is not only the most prevalent form of renewable energy in the U.S. but also the cheapest. Studies by financial advisory firm Lazard confirm that wind energy is more affordable to manufacture than almost all kinds of non-renewable energy, even excluding government subsidies. They report that wind can cost as little as $9 per 1,000 kilowatt-hours; whereas natural gas power typically costs $23 per kilowatt-hour when tax incentives and subsidies are equalized. Plus, research suggests that there will be an additional 50% decrease in wind energy costs in the next 10 years.
Anthony Malkin, ESTR's chief executive, believes that the best approach to converting the country to renewables is through market action rather than government action. "We're trying to move the market with capital, rather than through a policy mandate," he said.
Through ESRT's actions, they are proving that the switch to renewables is not only for good press, but also good for business. To learn more about the Empire State Realty Trust commitment to sustainability, click here.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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