Gotham's Christmas tree gets greener

Deck the halls with LEDs: Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will use energy-saving bulbs powered by new solar panels.

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.

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 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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