NEW YORK CITY-In an unusual set of circumstances–involving weekend work and scaffolding hung from the ceiling of the main trading floor–the windows at the New York Stock Exchange are being modernized. Skyline Windows is performing the work, which is currently over halfway done. It’s all part of an ongoing effort at the exchange to save both energy and money.
“A hundred years ago there were guys yelling screaming on the floor with little pieces of paper and big chalk boards and just general mayhem, as we have all seen in old movies,” Steven Kraus, CEO of Skyline Windows, tells GlobeSt.com. “Light was very important and they built a very tall, almost train station-type room for this trading to take place and the big window let the light in.” Kraus says that the original glazing was replaced with a plastic—Lexan—which eventually cracked and crazed.
“They determined that it was time to make a change,” he says, adding that the ultimate goal was to achieve “a super energy efficient glass package,” which Skyline Windows and Serious Energy were able to provide.
Skyline, which was started by Kraus’ grandfather in 1921 as a building maintenance company, specializes in replacing windows in landmark buildings, where energy savings and sound abatement have to be weighed against concerns about historic preservation. It’s a tricky balance, and one that the exchange had to negotiate from the start.
“The process is one by which there are documents, drawings and photographs that are produced to show the existing or the previous condition and what we would propose to be the new condition,” says James Katsarelis, managing director, global real estate and facilities at the NYSE. “It’s given to the Landmarks and Preservation Commission, which goes through an analysis process to make sure that we are doing something that is equivalent to its landmark status. For us it took about 7 or 8 weeks to get through that process.”
Once approval was gained, the work began. According to Kraus, the job is on the unusual side for Skyline, due to the need to do a complete set up and knock down of an elaborate system of scaffolding during off-hours, when the exchange is closed. “The building was built with provision to be able to hang a scaffold through the suspended ceiling of the stock exchange,” he says. “There are holes in the ceiling and every Friday afternoon, after the exchange closes, our team goes down there and re-hangs scaffolds. They work all weekend and then Sunday night clean up so the exchange can open Monday morning without any physical appearance of any of our operations.”
Kraus says that energy efficiency was always the chief concern, which Katsarelis and NYSE colleague Tony Sultana confirm. “The performance cuts solar heat between 40% and 60% from the original ones,” says Sultana, also a managing director, global real estate and facilities at the NYSE. “Those are good percentages, which eventually will equate to huge money savings.”
Sultana says that it’s all a part of other sustainable practices the NYSE undertakes, including water reduction and retrofitted lighting. Neither he nor Katsarelis would give a figure for the retrofit. Skyline’s Kraus would only go so far as to say that “the job is certainly in the seven figure size.”
The new windows are an inch and a half of insulated glass and filled with Argon gas. Sultana says that the goal is to finish the main trading floor by the end of the year and then move on to the garage, a room whose windows face north, overlooking Wall Street.