By Jill Beckerle
September 30th, 2021
New York City is home to some of the most famous buildings in the world, some of which have a great history in this city. When these famous buildings need renovations, it is important that that history is safely and accurately preserved.
As discussed in our previous article, “Historic Preservation of Prominent Buildings: Flatiron Building,” the Flatiron Building is one of the most prominent buildings in New York City and it attracts thousands of tourists every year. So when it came time for the limestone and terracotta to be renovated, it was important to keep the historical integrity of the building. However, the exterior is not the only part of the building that is being renovated. The interior systems are also being updated with new technology to improve the building’s safety and energy efficiency while maintaining its history. Some of the renovations include the installation of a second egress staircase, a new sprinkler system, a central heating and cooling system, rain reclamation tanks, and new rooftop solar panels. The installation of the second egress staircase and the new sprinkler system will bring the building up to code, which ensures the safety of the future occupants of the newly renovated office spaces.
Before this renovation of the Flatiron Building, individual window A/C units were used throughout the office spaces. The new central heating and cooling system will replace those units which will allow the exterior of the building to look as it did when it was first built. The new system that will be installed is an energy-efficient variable refrigerant flow system or VRF. The VRF allows for each floor to control their temperature and will capture heat from the cooling process in one space and reuse it in another that needs heating.
Rain reclamation tanks will allow the building to reuse a finite resource for other applications. The rainwater will be stored in the tanks until it is needed for other uses throughout the building. This includes, but is not limited to, fire suppression, watering plants, and toilet flushing. Collecting rainwater is also beneficial because it helps with the surrounding stormwater management plan. This is especially helpful in New York City, as the majority of the area is made of up impervious materials.
The installation of a renewable energy source like solar panels will help decrease the emissions that would normally occur in order to power a large skyscraper such as the Flatiron Building. This will help the building meet the requirements of Local Law 97, which has a goal of reducing emissions in New York City by 40% between 2005 and 2030. Now that New York City requires Energy Efficiency Grades for buildings 25,000 square feet or larger, these changes will help the Flat Iron Building continue to score well.