New Program to Scale Multifamily and Commercial Building Climate Solutions

October 15, 2021

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced $9.5 million to establish the Empire Technology Prize program, an ambitious new corporate challenge aimed at advancing building decarbonization across New York State. The funding will support a qualified program administrator to manage the program and provide seed money for the competition which will attract, incorporate, and scale building climate solutions from around the world to achieve carbon-neutrality in existing multifamily buildings at least eight stories high or commercial buildings at least 15 stories high. This announcement supports the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) nation-leading goal calling for an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

"Buildings are the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions in New York State, and we need to ramp up tangible solutions that decarbonize buildings faster to fight climate change," Governor Hochul said. "Through this initiative, we are creating the bridge between innovative solutions and multifamily and commercial building owners who can benefit from those solutions to chart a more sustainable, low carbon future."

Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the Empire Technology Prize program is designed to be both a business accelerator and a prize program by combining business support with monetary awards to advance low carbon retrofit approaches.

NYSERDA is currently accepting applications for the program administrator who will be awarded up to $1.7 million through 2024 to engage industry partners in a competitive corporate challenge to facilitate the deployment of carbon emission reducing technologies. NYSERDA is dedicating an additional $7.8 million for prizes under the program, with the program administrator expected to grow the prize pool by leveraging private sector partnerships and investments.

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "This program will connect industry professionals with innovators to ensure usable, sustainable solutions are developed and have a pathway to market. We are focused on engaging private industry to lead market change, decarbonize commercial and multifamily buildings and create a greener, cleaner future that benefits all New Yorkers."

NYSERDA will accept applicationsLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. through November 17, 2021 from qualified single organizations or teams of organizations to be the program administrator, co-develop and manage the Empire Technology Prize program. A scoring committee will evaluate the proposals based on the applicant's past track record of creating successful corporate challenges with activities including global recruitment, industry-focused convening, business acceleration support, strategic partnership facilitation, and leveraging private dollars. The prize program itself will launch in 2022.

Senator Kevin Parker said, "As Chair of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, I applaud NYSERDA and the Governor's office for making the Empire Technology Prize program a reality. I stand eager to continue working with NYSERDA to promote initiatives that advance New York's progressive energy and jobs agenda."

Assemblymember Michael Cusick said, "Building decarbonization is one of the most crucial components in achieving our statewide energy and environmental goals. The Empire Technology Prize Program will be a creative and effective tool for decarbonizing some of our states worst greenhouse gas emitting buildings and this program will make a significant impact in our efforts to reduce emissions."

This program builds on the market insight gathered through the successful Empire Building Challenge, announced in September 2020, a public-private partnership to spur economic growth in New York through solutions to decarbonize tall commercial and multifamily buildings in conjunction with some of the world's largest real estate holders, manufacturers, technology experts, and entrepreneurs.

Buildings are responsible for one third of the economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions in New York State, and many of the more than six million buildings across the State were constructed before the energy code and are not designed to be energy efficient. 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.

The Empire Technology Prize program is supported through NYSERDA's Innovation program which helps early-stage companies with technical assistance and business development resources through entrepreneurial support, and manufacturing scale-up. NYSERDA has invested more than $28 million in entrepreneurial support programs since 2009, supporting nearly 349 companies and generating more than 1,140 jobs. More than $780 million in private investments and $200 million in project finance capital have been leveraged while helping bring more than 440 new and improved clean energy products to market, including LED lighting systems, home appliances, longer-lasting batteries, and more efficient heating-and-cooling systems.

Funding for this initiative is through the State's 10-year, $5.3 billion Clean Energy Fund. More information about this funding is available on NYSERDA's website.

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Act

New York State'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 the Climate Act, 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.