Memorandums of Understanding Seek to Identify High-Impact Solutions to Overcome Barriers to Decarbonizing High-Rise Buildings and Stimulate Investment in Clean Energy Economy

June 16, 2021

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the International Cleantech NetworkLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. (ICN), and EU TechbridgeLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this announced the signing of Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) designed to enhance collaboration on identifying high-impact solutions to overcome critical barriers to decarbonizing high-rise buildings and stimulate investment in New York State’s clean energy economy. The partnerships will focus primarily on NYSERDA’s $50 million Empire Building Challenge, which is expected to leverage over $250 million in private investment in building upgrades, testing, and technology. The agreements recognize a shared commitment to carbon-neutral buildings and will accelerate New York’s progress toward Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050 as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act).
Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “These MOUs will enable us to match global innovators with our most challenging building decarbonization issues to identify replicable solutions that can be used across the state. Our collaboration with ICN and EU Techbridge will increase information sharing and foster valuable partnerships between building owners and international companies, further establishing New York State as a leader in implementing low- and zero-carbon technologies to combat climate change.”

Henrik Bjørnager Jensen, Chair of ICN and International Director at CLEAN, which leads the EU TechBridge project, said, "We are thrilled to be formalizing our collaboration with NYSERDA. We look forward to mobilizing ICN's unparalleled network of innovative small to medium-sized enterprises to help realize New York's ambitious goals to decarbonize the built environment. This partnership will help translate New York's sustainability challenges into business opportunities, driving green growth."

Mike Mulcahy, Chair of the ICN and CEO of GreenCape in Cape Town said, “The ICN represents 16,000 GreenTech companies from 4 continents. The partnership with NYSERDA provides a tangible opportunity for global co-operation and learning in support of a greener future. The work done through this project will unearth new solutions for the buildings and create the context for international partnerships.”

Under the agreements, the strategic partnerships will support knowledge sharing, matchmaking and investment from leading cleantech providers in the European Union, Africa, North America, and South America to New York to strengthen NYSERDA’s ability to learn from the robust global industry of building decarbonization solution providers.
The MOUs focus on overcoming the complex challenges of completing energy efficiency and electrification upgrades in high-rise buildings, a key area of the buildings sector that is being addressed through NYSERDA’s Empire Building Challenge. Launched in September 2020, the Empire Building Challenge program is designed to showcase best practices that can be replicated in contexts facing similar challenges and issues through pilot projects and demonstrations of technical solutions. Through the Empire Building Challenge, NYSERDA is establishing partnerships with leading commercial and multifamily real estate portfolio owners and occupants with buildings located in New York State that make a commitment to bringing one or more buildings in their portfolio to carbon neutrality by 2035.
NYSERDA will collaborate with ICN and EU Techbridge on the following key priorities: 

  • Identifying concrete solutions and knowledge sharing to support the transition to more energy efficient buildings in New York;
  • Mobilizing ICN and EU Techbridge’s strong clean technology network and encouraging investment and job creation in New York; and
  • Providing a forum for exchange on new approaches and solutions within energy efficiency, climate adaptation, and resiliency to foster best practices 

High-rise buildings, particularly in New York City, face unique challenges when it comes to implementing carbon emissions reduction measures. These challenges can range from tenant disruption, upfront costs for renovations, and the sheer size and scale of high-rise buildings. The Empire Building Challenge seeks to address these and other market barriers by addressing crucial clean energy innovation gaps, through collaboration with the private sector, to decarbonize high-rise buildings and provide a blueprint so successful strategies can be implemented across many more buildings.

The International Cleantech Network (ICN) is an exclusive network of 16 leading cleantech regions in Europe, North America and South Africa, connecting 16,000 businesses, public authorities and research institutions. The EU Techbridge project, led by the Danish cleantech organization, CLEAN, is a co-funded COSME programme of the European CommissionLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., that brings together five regional cleantech hubs to match innovative European solution providers with North American customers. Both ICN and EU Techbridge have a network of solution providers that focus on decarbonization technologies.

Buildings are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in New York State, and integrating energy efficiency and electrification measures in existing buildings will reduce carbon pollution and help achieve more sustainable, healthy, and comfortable buildings. Through NYSERDA and utility programs, over $6.8 billion is being invested to decarbonize buildings across the State. By improving energy efficiency in buildings and including onsite storage, renewables, and electric vehicle charging equipment, the State will reduce carbon pollution and achieve the ambitious target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs by 2025, the equivalent of powering 1.8 million homes. Energy efficiency accounts for 75 percent of the clean energy jobs across New York, and the state's ambitious plan to reduce carbon pollution will result in an additional $1.8 billion in societal and environmental benefits.

Building owners, solution providers, manufacturers and other interested stakeholders are encouraged to visit additional details on the Empire Building Challenge and to learn how to partner with NYSERDAreduce carbon emissions, and get involved in the clean energy economy. For more information about ICN and EU Techbridgeplease visit their websites.

Today’s announcement represents New York’s commitment to supporting technology innovation in the advancement of clean energy as an economic driver and critical solution in the global fight against climate change. Governor Cuomo recently 
announced an MOU with the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI),Denmark’s largest private business and employers’ organization, designed to enhance collaboration on decarbonizing high-rise buildings in New York State. In September 2019, Governor Cuomo announced an agreement between NYSERDA and the Danish Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate to share expertise and knowledge for developing innovative solutions for the development of offshore wind energy, recognizing the shared common interest in advancing this renewable resource as a clean and sustainable energy source.

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

Governor Cuomo's nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York's unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $21 billion in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2019, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.


NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York State since 1975. To learn more about NYSERDA’s programs and funding opportunities, visit or follow us on TwitterLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., FacebookLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., YouTubeLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., or InstagramLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..