Recycling Rocks the Empire State Building

As of last week, all the windows in the Empire State Building have been replaced…using the existing glass…repurposed right on site.  Please excuse the ellipses, but this is really exciting.

As Kevin Surace of Serious Materials tells it — Tony Malkin, owner of the New York City landmark, wanted to save money on his energy bills, but didn’t want to waste his existing glass and Kevin said, “I can do that.”

So there, in a temporary shop on the fifth floor, Kevin’s crew remade each of the building’s 6,500 windows, crafting them into a new product which is 400% more efficient than what was there before.

The windows are part of an energy-efficiency retrofit that will achieve the astounding feat of making the Empire State greener than 90% of other office buildings. Tony expects it will save him $4.4 million a year.

Kevin Surace is a game-changer. He’s one of those rare individuals who give humans a good name because they’re so darn smart – not just in book learning (his degree is in Electrical Engineering Technology), but about how to influence other people to do what’s best for humanity at large.

As Inc. Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year, he was featured speaker at the 2010 Rochester Institute of Technology Entrepreneurs Conference, giving a rapt crowd his ten secrets for building a great company:

1. Identify a problem. Buildings and making the stuff they’re built from generate 52% of the world output of carbon dioxide.

2. Provide great solutions. Since dual-pane glass is basically ineffective at reducing heat and cold transfer, Kevin’s company has come up with something better.

3. Recognition by peers is important. Kevin showed two videos of President Obama extolling the fact that Serious re-opened a shuttered factory and put hundreds of people back to work making energy efficient products.

4. Hire the right people for the job. Most of his come from Silicon Valley not from the building industry.

5. Have a vision for the next 5 to 10 years (at least) into the future.

6. Amazing client references help a lot.  3.5 million people visit the Empire State Building every year. My guess is Kevin will find some way to tell them about the windows.

7. Disruptive innovation. Stand up and knock over the table of existing practice.  Kevin believes nothing happens if no one takes risks.

8.  Disruptive marketing. Be there the moment the customer needs you. Monthly newsletters don’t cut it any more.  Own the online conversation about your product category.

9.  People notice when you’re nice. Smiling faces of people you put back to work: Priceless.

10. Don’t be afraid to change everything we know.

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