Thought Leadership

Tony Malkin Joins “5 Year Frontier” with Daniel Darling

January 19, 2024

ESRT’s Chairman, President, and CEO Tony Malkin joined the “5 Year Frontier” podcast with Daniel Darling to discuss the groundbreaking deep energy retrofit at the Empire State Building, technologies that help buildings decarbonize, and advice for owners to be compliant with upcoming emissions caps. 

See highlights from the conversation and hear the full podcast below! 

On Greenwashing

The early images of green were the hanging gardens of Babylon. You’d have plant walls everywhere and the outside of buildings were plants and water fountains. That’s not what we need to do in order to reduce the impact of the built environment on the earth’s environment. When I think of ‘green’ I think of greenwashing, and greenwashing is a sort of subjective presentation of nice glossy pictures and words of intentions to do good.”

On Meaningful Sustainability Measures

“Energy consumption is number one. We need to reduce our energy consumption. It’s not just fossil fuels, it’s energy consumption in general. People say ‘we will just [use] renewable energy.’ Well, in the creation of renewable energy generation – solar panels, hydro, wind – you have to consume a tremendous amount of carbon to produce the equipment and the systems that will produce and distribute that power.  

[Next], we need to redirect our tenant construction debris and our actual tenant waste. We need to look at how we will minimize what goes into landfills, minimize what needs to be burned, and maximize what can be recycled and repurposed. [Next is] water. The fact is that water is as precious a commodity as carbon is a problem. We need to be able to deal with everything from store water runoff, particularly because buildings are essentially impermeable, and therefore they block water from entering the ground. We need to reduce the amount of water we use and we waste. [Lastly], Air. We consider air to be the environment outdoors; we try to reduce pollutants on the street. We need to look at how we reduce pollutants inside buildings. Indoor environmental quality is critical.”  

On the “Silver Buckshot” Approach

What we look for are better, more efficient ways to measure and to effect the changes that we want. One thing that surprises me is the degree to which a lot of people will try to come up with that killer solution, that silver bullet. We have the way. And that’s not the way it works. There are so many different systems, there are so many different processes; there is no one solution. Therefore, anybody who comes to you and says, I’ve got the killer app that will make everything work, the answer is, it’s impossible. You can’t. That kind of a god solution doesn’t exist. 

Listen to the full podcast here!