November 21, 2007 11:28 AM PST

Gotham's Christmas tree gets greener

New York's iconic Christmas tree this year will use energy-efficient lighting powered by solar panels, part of a refurbishing at Rockefeller Center to conserve energy.

The Norway Spruce, set to be lighted on November 28, will use 30,000 light-emitting diodes (LEDs) strung on 5 miles of wire, according to Mayor Bloomberg's office, which announced the changes on Wednesday with real estate company Tishman Speyer.

Photos: Oh Christmas tree, oh LED tree

The energy-efficient bulbs will save as much electricity per day as a single family in a 2,000-square-foot home uses in a month, they said.

Rockefeller Center now has the largest installation of solar-electric panels in New York City--365 General Electric panels capable of generating 70 kilowatts.

The tree itself is in for more sustainable treatment as well. It was cut down by a handsaw to cut down on pollution. At the end of the holiday season, the tree will be made into lumber to be used by Habitat for Humanity.

In addition to the energy-conservation measures for this holiday season, Tishman Speyer said that next year Rockefeller Center will have a green roof and an ice chiller installed.

The green roof, which will sit on top of Radio City Music Hall, will include desert plantings to reduce waste-water runoff. Green roofs also act as an insulator.

The ice chiller plant, which will include 47 water tanks that are 11 feet tall, will be a more efficient way to cool the building. The system will make cold water and ice at night, when there is less demand for electricity.

During the day, the building's air-conditioning will cool air by passing it through the cold water. The system is far more efficient and lowers the burden on the electrical grid during the hottest times of the day.

Mayor Bloomberg is one of several American mayors to promote energy conservation and environmental programs. Bloomberg hosted the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit in May where he unveiled what he called the city's "greenprint" for environmental sustainability.

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4 comments

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ironic
Isn't it ironic that the tree huggers cut down a tree? I think it is good what they are doing, besides cutting down a perfectly healthy tree in the name of "Tradition"
Posted by cgallaway (167 comments )
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irony
Oh, I forgot to mention, that while they are using less energy, the fact that they are using any energy at all on something that is not needed (let's face it, Christmas trees are just for show, and doesn't produce any real benefits to society)is somehow ironic.

Let's think of it in another situation. Your creative mind has found a way to save 5 minutes doing chores, but it requires an additional 15 minutes of setup time. In the time you take to setup your "time saving" device, you could have completed the task at hand. Instead, you spent 10 more minutes than necessary.

So while saving a few kW-H's, they still spend more than they need to in the first place.....isn't that ironic?
Posted by cgallaway (167 comments )
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Great News!
The market is working. The good folks in the Big Apple are greening up the place. This keeps a great tradition going while reducing costs and improves services for everyday use going forward.
Posted by martin_c_e (126 comments )
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GE was wrong to install solar panels! see why
GE needs to rethink how they show off to the world that they are trying to be green. Have them look into a solar transfer and then call us when they are ready to produce 3-4 times more power for the same invested dollar and help the planet 3-4 times more. That is significant! Putting panels on their roof was simply wrong, a publicity stunt, and or both.
Posted by Manhattan2 (329 comments )
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