Turning a New York City Skyscraper Into a Modern, Smart Building

New York Property Manager


Real Estate


New York


lbs plus reduction of carbon emissions.

Legend Energy Advisors was engaged by the property management company for one of the largest skyscrapers in New York City to identify and implement strategies to modernize, automate and improve efficiency across the building.

It was constructed in the early 1960s and, despite an energy budget in excess of $12 million annually, little had been done in the subsequent years to address inefficiencies. Given the building’s single utility account accommodated over 60 floors of tenants, it became extremely challenging to accurately invoice tenants for the electricity each had consumed.

After reviewing the client’s historical energy consumption and spend data, Legend sent a team of engineers, electricians, sustainability experts, and account managers to walk every floor of the building. The mission was to prioritize upgrades and gain a complete understanding of the building’s true cost drivers.

Lighting RetrofitS

The first ‘low-hanging fruit’ came in the form of the building’s lighting. Fluorescent tubes were replaced throughout the stairwells, mechanical areas, and loading dock with LEDs and GHIDs.

The new VFDs allow the client to temporarily slow the building’s return air fans from 60 Hz down to 48 Hz during times of high demand or grid constraint. As a result, the building can shed more than 500 kW of electric demand within 15 seconds without affecting business operations. Intelligent controls were installed to facilitate this demand reduction in order to capture additional demand response (DR) revenue and to respond to price signals from the grid.

Analytics-guided Infrastructure

A new network backbone was also installed as part of this project. The network backbone that accompanies these VFDs is completely automated, and its rules are based on predetermined thresholds established by the client. Building management has the ability to set alerts and alarms should conditions drift beyond pre-set specifications. All building data (voltage, amperage, harmonics, etc.) are tracked in real time and are available 24 hours a day on the client’s computer, tablet, or smart phone to monitor and make adjustments as required.

Enhanced smart meters were installed on every floor to track tenant power demand and consumption. All of this data is automatically uploaded into Legend’s proprietary online platform – LegendAnalytics™. Tenants can monitor and reduce their consumption, and invoices are automatically generated, audited, and distributed in a streamlined, secure process. Moreover, each tenant group can track usage data in real-time to better understand energy consumption.

Stabilizing Market Risk

One of Legend’s core competencies is the constant monitoring of market data, and more importantly, arming our clients with actionable intelligence to improve their energy management strategy. In addition to regular budgeting, accrual reports, and forecasting, Legend works with clients to develop a long-term energy purchasing strategy. This goes far beyond the typical brokerage model of fielding the lowest offer from a handful of suppliers.

The electric demand reduction implemented in this case was critical to reducing the client’s capacity obligation by more than 30%. This capacity number (defined as the building’s highest peak during the prior year, and the amount of electricity that the grid is prepared to deliver at any moment) typically makes up approximately 20% of a consumer’s total electric cost. Having reduced the capacity substantially, Legend began working to aid the client in securing a lower supply rate. The preexisting supply contract called for a block and index structure that left the client vulnerable to price fluctuations, and over-hedged at times based on building occupancy. Legend was able to negotiate a contract that locked in a reduced fixed rate, while allowing for a 50% swing in consumption and demand at no cost premium. This means that the client will not be over-hedged if they continue to implement new efficiencies, or under-hedged should more energy intensive tenants move into their space.

In total, our new procurement strategy saves $317,468 per year.

Legend brings a team of experts into this client’s building every month to sit down and discuss strategies as the energy markets continue to evolve. Future projects being discussed include battery storage, solar PV, new cooling towers and a cogeneration unit. Our clients rely on us to provide cutting edge, expedient solutions, and we strive to provide them with new ideas and enduring solutions.


Lighting Results: We created a 50% reduction in lighting demand and cost. More than half of the cost for these new bulbs was covered by utility rebates. Lighting quality (and overall safety) was also enhanced dramatically. Overall we lowered lighting demand by 22kW and electric use by 206,522 kWh resulting in an annual cost reduction of $37,099 and carbon emissions reduction of 203,447 lbs.

Automated VFDs Results: The total VFD project lowered demand by 511kW and electric use by 613,341 kWh resulting in an annual cost reduction of $220,447 and carbon emissions reduction of 604,208 lbs.

This project, including the VFDs, fiber optic backbone, and meter installation cost nearly $800,000, however, Legend worked with local and state agencies to recover more than $560,000 in rebates. The annual total cost reduction reaches over $220,000 Combined with the energy reduction and increased DR revenue, the project was cash flow positive within nine months.

Beyond the cost savings, the building has reduced its carbon footprint by 607,000 lbs. annually and is on track to qualify for LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council if they choose to pursue that endeavor. The VFD project netted an additional 500kW of curtailment capability, increasing revenue substantially.

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Through industry leading technology we empower our clients to integrate all interrelated components of their business to create a holistic energy strategy.


reduction in lighting demand and cost.


plus saved per year through our new procurement strategy.