The Empire State Building in New York City remains one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city. Due the immortal movies like “An Affair to Remember” and “Sleepless in Seattle” romantic couples still meet at the building. Once the tallest building in the world, the New York City skyline would not be the Big Apple without the spectacular tower.The Empire State Building is more than a tourist attraction. It is prime commercial real estate. In the depressed commercial real estate market, the decision to retrofit the structure caught many experts by surprise. The decision to convert to sustainable design and operations makes a powerful statement about the value of LEED® certification in today’s marketplace. Basically, if you are going to do it, you might as well do it right.What the buildings owners decided was that to avoid sustainable conversion would leave them with an already outdated and functionally obsolete building. The new Empire State Building features new windows, increased insulation, rebuilt cooling plant chillers and a web-base dashboard tenants can use to manage their individual energy use.The Empire State Building owners project a three-year window to recoup their project costs. Retrofit designers estimate a 50% energy use reduction in the first two years alone. Now, that is recession proof economics.The $20 million renovation is expected to deliver $4.4 million in energy savings per year. Additionally, rents will increase and tenant demand has already jumped.During the recession, the cost of oil has been as high as $146 a barrel and as low as $39 per barrel. In the U.S. shortsighted building owners tend to become lax when oil prices are low. Now that rates have moved into the $70 range and with higher prices expected, there is no better time to bring economy and sustainability to the front page.For property owners and tenants, controlling escalating energy costs can be key to surviving the recession and turning a profit when the tide turns. Unlike the over-crowded residential marketplace the commercial market is not over-built. The future for sustainability is ahead.