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Empire State Building Lights Honor RMI

By Molly Miller


The characteristic floodlights that illuminate the top of the Empire State Building were shining a bright green May 10 to honor Rocky Mountain Institute’s 30 years of work in energy efficiency.

Red on Valentine’s Day, blue on Frank Sinatra’s birthday, in honor of Ol’Blue Eyes, the tradition of recognizing significant holidays and milestones through the colorful signature lights on the building began more than 40 years ago. On this night, during RMI’s 30th anniversary event, themed “Celebrating Solutions,” patrons and guests enjoyed 360-degree views from the 61st floor while hearing firsthand from RMI’s co-founder and Chief Scientist Amory Lovins and Tony Malkin of the Empire State Building Company about RMI’s work to create and implement solutions that advance energy and resource efficiency and renewables, including its role in the Empire State Building’s successful energy-efficiency retrofit. Emmy award-winning journalist Frank Sesno moderated the conversation and former President Bill Clinton, who helped get RMI involved in the project, provided a video message.

In 2008, RMI performed energy analysis and worked with the team that made recommendations for the retrofit, which cut energy costs by 38 percent. With savings of $4.4 million in annual energy costs, the project paid for itself in just over three years. The project serves as an inspiring example of energy efficiency for hundreds of other existing commercial buildings.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this institutional milestone at the most famous building in the world, where RMI's integrated design approach helped to achieve a breakthrough in sustainable energy efficiency," RMI CEO Michael Potts says.

In addition to the conversation with Malkin and Lovins at the anniversary celebration, RMI staff shared the latest news about RMI’s work and actress Anna Deavere Smith delivered a unique performance. RMI’s supporters from the Dutch and United Postcode Lotteries also launched this year's Green Challenge at the RMI30 celebration. The Green Challenge calls on entrepreneurs from around the world to submit business plans for innovative and products or services that directly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, score highly on convenience, quality, and design, and can be commercialized in two years. Winners receive 700,000 euros. RMI Executive Director Marty Pickett will serve for a third year as a member of the international jury that selects the winners.

For a look back at some of RMI’s significant milestones and projects over the last 30 years, please see a visual representation of our Universe of Impact.