LED Upgrade Will Be Latest Environmental Step for SL Green

SL Green Realty Corp. is nearing completion on an extensive, and apparently quite profitable, $2.5 million LED lighting retrofit involving 21 office buildings totaling 7 million square feet.

SL Green LED Retrofit

SL Green Realty Corp., which describes itself as Manhattan’s largest owner of office buildings, is nearing completion on an extensive, and apparently quite profitable, $2.5 million LED lighting retrofit involving 21 office buildings totaling 7 million square feet. The initiative, which began in March, will wrap up next month, at which point 16,000 LED lamps will have been installed in place of older technologies, including incandescent, halogen and fluorescent lights.

The upgrade project is expected to save SL Green about $750,000 a year through combined energy and material/labor savings, providing a payback period of only three years.

It’s also one of the nation’s largest LED lighting retrofits to date, according to California-based Seesmart Technologies, which was chosen by SL Green to provide and install the LEDs. The Seesmart LED lamps are expected to reduce energy use by more than 50 percent and provide a lamp life of more than eight years.

SL Green chose Seesmart, Jay Black, the REIT’s director of sustainability, told Commercial Property Executive, based in part on the company’s diverse product line. The LED lamps are going into common areas including lobbies, stairwells, mechanical areas and garages, Black said.

Phase one of the project began last March, Black told CPE, and involved 17 suburban office buildings totaling 2.5 million square feet in Westchester County, N.Y., and Fairfield County, Conn. The second phase, which will be finished in August, involved four buildings in New York City, totaling about 4.5 million square feet. Each phase involved about 8,000 LED lamps.

Connecticut-based Environmental Systems Corp. assisted SL Green in evaluating Seesmart and its competitors.

The project shows that LEDs are “a viable opportunity for us,” said Black, but he added: “This is all part of a grander program…a comprehensive program throughout our portfolio.” By the end of this year, he said, SL Green will be saving about $2.2 million annually as a result of environmental upgrades since 2009.

Black cites two suburban New York buildings as examples of the REIT’s ongoing efforts to be greener. A 240,000-square-foot office building in Valhalla, N.Y., built in the 1980s, is undergoing a mechanical retrofit costing $529,000. Taking into account an anticipated $150,000 in incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, he explained, the expected $200,000 in savings will generate a payback period of only 21 months.

A 121,000-square-foot office building in Greenwich, Conn., which already has an Energy Star label, is undergoing a similar upgrade, receiving variable-frequency drives and carbon dioxide monitors for more-efficient air circulation.