Interview with Tony Malkin about Empire State Bldg Green Makeover

17 Aug

The other day I talked with Tony Malkin, owner of the Empire State Building, about his ongoing, comprehensive project to make ESB more energy efficient.

Normally I begin interviews by introducing myself, saying a few words about the book project, and then asking the interviewee if he or she has any questions for me, just as a courtesy.  Here’s how the exchange played out with Mr. Malkin:

Me: So before I leap in, do you have any questions for me?

Malkin: Hey dude, you’re the one writing the book, not me.

Me: I’ll take that as a ‘no.’

The point?  Mr. Malkin is a busy guy with lots going on and little time to spare.  Which is why I was grateful that he took time to speak with me for nearly a half hour.  He was extremely thoughtful and well spoken about his efforts to “green” the Empire State Building. If you’re not familiar with the project, check it out.

Among the many good points Mr. Malkin made, one stood out.  As many green energy people have noted, efficiency measures (i.e. finding ways to use less energy more efficiently) are often more effective and less costly than solar, wind, geothermal, and other ways of making renewable energy.  Yet while generous subsidies, grants, and tax breaks exist for renewable energy-creating technologies, there are none designed specifically for the development/real estate industry.  And there should be, according to Mr. Malkin.

Good point.  Buildings consume a huge amount of energy. Why wouldn’t the federal govt want to encourage homeowners and developers and real estate moguls like Mr. Malkin to spend money up front to make their properties more energy efficient?

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