The news that the Empire State Building is to retrofit in an environmental way is great news and a great example. If the world's most iconic tall building can do this and produce 40% energy savings why can't the rest of the US and the World for that matter.
For the refit all 6,514 windows are to be stripped out, before being renovated with a insulating film and a mixture of inert gases. This will make them 4 times better at heat and coolness retention. At the high tech end the world largest wireless network will be set up allowing valves and vents to be controlled centrally. The four central chillers have been replaced with a smart air circulation systems installed.
The net effect of the 40% savings, which is what is being focused on for households on a smaller scale in the USA is 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon off their footprint over the next 15 years. The equivalent of taking 20,000 cars off the road. If this was replicated across just one fifth the large buildings in the USA it would amount to 2.3bn metric tonnes, or the amount of greenhouse gas pollution produced by the whole of Russia in a year.
Can it be done. Yes it can.