By Jill Colvin
MIDTOWN — With a flick of a switch, the owners of 1 Penn Plaza turned on a cogeneration power plant Tuesday that is set reduce the building's carbon footprint by about 40 per cent.
The plant, which sits atop the building's 12th floor setback overlooking Macy’s and Madison Square Garden, will provide the commercial tower with half of its electricity.
The green-minded generator uses a process that saves power by converting heat that would normally be wasted into steam, which can then be used to cool air during the summer months and heat water in the winter.
The 400-ton plant, which took about 18 months to build, is the largest is a private building in the city, building owner Vornado Realty Trust president David Greenbaum said.
"This is a precursor, this is a trailblazer," said Peter Savio from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, who was on hand to the turn the massive generator on along with Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith.
The 6.2 megawatt facility, which went online just before 11 a.m., is packed with large grumbling generators, snaking metal steam pipes, insulated cooling pipes and digital displays.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has reportedly received thousands in campaign donations from the real estate giant, said that older buildings are "the biggest ticket items" in the fight to make the city greener, and challenged other builders to follow One Penn Plaza's lead.
"If this building can do it, there is no reason for any building in the City of New York to say that they can't do it," she said.