In going green, Empire State Building will save $4.4 million annually

When the owners of the Empire State Building decided they wanted to reduce the landmark building's energy use, they did not opt to turn off the iconic lights that shine over New York City during all hours. Instead, they decided to revamp the building's entire energy use roadmap in an effort to reduce long-term consumption by about 20 percent.

Plans have been in the works to tackle the building's energy consumption for the last three years. After a series of commercial inspections, building owners decided to spend approximately $20 million to better manage lighting, enhance the building's heating and insulation and make windows more efficient. The renovations are expensive, but considering that savings are expected to reach $4.4 million annually, they should pay for themselves in four to five years.

"After one year, we have proven that investing in energy efficiency gives building owners a dollars-and-cents advantage," Dave Myers, whose company conducted the retrofit, told CNN Money.

The renovations come at an ideal time, as just last week, the Empire State Building lost its title as the tallest building in the city, as ongoing construction on One World Trade Center gave it the honor instead. The owners of both buildings have been competing for tenants and will continue to do so in the coming years, so the energy upgrades to the Empire State Building may compel some businesses to keep their offices there.

If the owners of one of the tallest buildings in the world can find ways to generate energy cost savings, then other businesses should also be able to make similar changes. For commercial property owners in the Tri-State area, a D.C. inspector can survey a space and then rely on years of knowledge and experience to determine which upgrades would be most cost-effective.