It’s billed as the world’s most eco-friendly skyscraper: The Bank of America Tower at On Bryant Park. If the architects and designers at Cook + Fox have their way, it’ll take a bit more energy to recite that mouthful of a name than it will to run the entire 55-story building in New York City. The extra money spent to build green -- which totaled about six percent of the $1.2 billion construction cost -- will be recouped within two to four years through the building’s energy savings. Plus, the skyscraper’s water systems exemplify the mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Here’s how the building’s environmentally friendly features stack up.


Rainwater collected from the roof is used to flush toilets and to water plants. Urinals don’t use water at all, which saves three million gallons a year. Capturing and recycling the rainwater keeps 100 percent of it out of city sewers.
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A gray-water system recycles wastewater for use in cooling towers.
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There are tanks on four levels, so less pumping is necessary to get water running through bathroom faucets.
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Total expected water savings: 10.3 million gallons a year.
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Air ducts are in floors rather than in ceilings. Air pumped in from below needs to be cooled only to 65 degrees, while air pumped in from above must be cooled to 55 degrees to compensate for the heat from lights as well as for rising warm air.
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Nobel Prize winner Al Gore and his environmentally friendly money firm, Generation Investment Management, will reside on the 48th floor.
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The LED lights throughout the building are set to automatically dim during the day because of the abundance of natural light.
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Transparent super-insulating floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of daylight but block heat transfer.
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The building’s southwest corner is designed to dissipate the sun’s heat.
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Air enters the building at a height of 100 feet or more (this cuts down on pollutants), and from there, 95 percent of its particulates, as well as ozone and volatile organic compounds, are filtered out. Air is also filtered as it leaves the building.
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There are three state-of-the-art natural-gas fuel cells in the cellar that generate five megawatts of electricity, which is expected to cover as much as 70 percent of the building’s energy needs.
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Also in the cellar are forty-four 10-foot cylindrical tanks with water and cooling coils within. At night, when the generating plant produces more energy than the building uses, the excess energy is used to freeze that water. During the day, the ice melts and helps cool the building.
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The building’s core is formed of steel and concrete made with 45 percent slag, a waste product of blast furnaces. Besides providing a new purpose for an industrial by-product, the use of this concrete cuts associated CO 2 emissions by reducing the amount of cement that needs to be fired. Plus, it’s stronger and more durable than traditionally produced concrete.
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The steel frame contains mostly recycled metal, the majority of which was procured within 500 miles of the building site.
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The building has no parking garage; employees must rely on public transportation.
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A pedestrian passageway leads under 42nd Street so that employees can easily get to the subway station.