Real Estate Teams Committed to Decarbonize Heating and Domestic Hot Water in Their Existing High-Rise Buildings

October 3, 2022

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that six new real estate partnerships will join the State's $50 million Empire Building Challenge to help advance a climate-friendly building stock in New York State. The partnerships, consisting of real estate teams made up of best-in-class building owners, engineers, and solution providers, will develop highly repeatable approaches to reduce carbon emissions in the heating and hot water systems for 5.6 million square feet of existing high-rise buildings - including 316 affordable housing units - that are advancing through the Empire Building Challenge. The Clean Fight was selected as the program administrator for the Empire Technology Prize, a prize program developed to advance building technologies in New York State commercial and multifamily buildings. Today's announcements support the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050.

"New York is blazing a path in finding innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in buildings, and through continued partnerships with experienced real estate teams like the ones announced today, we are providing real-life examples of how it can be done," Governor Hochul said. "I congratulate our new Empire Building Challenge partners and know their vision and dedication to decarbonizing our buildings will get us even closer to achieving two million climate-friendly homes by 2030."

As a result of a competitive solicitation issued earlier this year by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the below organizations and their partners were chosen to advance eight showcase buildings in the EBC program. With this announcement, the EBC now has partnerships with 16 real estate leaders, including those announced last year, who control over 228 million square feet of commercial and multifamily New York real estate, including more than 75,000 housing units. These leaders have made public commitments to decarbonize over 125 million square feet, including close to 1,500 units of affordable housing.

New partners announced today include:

Amalgamated Housing Corporation

  • Team includes: EN-POWER GROUP, Egg Geo
  • Buildings: Tower I & Tower II, 3965 - 3975 Sedgwick Avenue, Bronx NY 10463
    -Two multi-family affordable housing properties, 316 affordable housing units, 20 stories, 425,070 square feet

Boston Properties

  • Team includes: Jaros, Baum, & Bolles Consulting Engineers, LLP, Norges Bank Investment Management
  • Building: 601 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10022
    -One high-rise commercial office building, 59 stories, 1.79 million square feet

Brookfield Properties

  • Team includes: Cosentini Associates
  • Building: 660 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10022
    -One high-rise commercial office building, 41 stories, totaling 1.5 million square feet

Equity Residential

  • Team includes: Goldman Copeland Consulting Engineers, Jones Lang LaSalle, RUHL
  • Buildings: 180 Montague, Brooklyn, NY 11201, and 777 Sixth Ave, New York, NY 10001
    -Two multi-family buildings, 31 and 32 stories, totaling 467,762 square feet

LeFrak Organization

  • Team includes: Steven Winter Associates, Inc., Ryan Soames Engineering
  • Building: 59-17 Junction Boulevard, Queens NY 11373
    -One Class B commercial building, 20 stories, totaling 395,745 square feet

Tishman Speyer

  • Team includes: Jaros, Baum & Bolles Consulting Engineers, LLP, Brightcore, Watt Time
  • Building: 520 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022
    -One high-rise commercial office building, 43 stories, totaling 1.1 million square feet

Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, said, "The new Empire Building Challenge partners are a clear indication New York's real estate industry is stepping up to find high quality, low carbon solutions for high-rise buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The diversity of high-rise existing buildings chosen, ranging from an affordable housing cooperative in the Bronx to a 59-story commercial office building in Manhattan, underscores the wide-breadth of building stock that we need to address to make building electrification a reality for more New Yorkers."

These new EBC partners will deploy innovative solutions focused on decarbonizing the heating and hot water systems of tall multifamily and commercial buildings through technical solutions such as recovering and sharing heat, thermal storage, advanced heat pumps, low temperature hydronics, and advanced system integrations. Partners will be eligible to receive $100,000 for decarbonization planning and up to $3,000,000 to support their low carbon retrofit demonstration projects through a competitive solicitation expected later this year. Additionally, case studies and best practices from the second cohort will be published in 2023 through the Empire Building Playbook Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

The EBC, launched in 2020, is a public-private partnership between NYSERDA and leading real estate developers, engineering firms, and solution providers to pioneer climate-friendly retrofits that can be replicated throughout the more than 3 billion square feet of existing, high-rise multifamily, commercial, and institutional buildings in New York State. The challenge aims to stimulate climate action from real estate portfolio owners; showcase best-in-class, commercially acceptable strategies for decarbonizing existing buildings; and spur product development and innovation from the global supply chain.

Also announced today, The Clean Fight has been competitively selected as the program administrator for the Empire Technology Prize, a $10 million dollar prize program developed to focus on advancing building technologies that will increase the deployment and adoption of low carbon retrofits in tall commercial and multifamily buildings in New York State. As the program administrator, The Clean Fight is responsible for convening strategic partners, recruiting and selecting solution providers, providing training and support to selected program participants, fundraising from corporate partners, and awarding prizes.

The Clean Fight is an accelerator program that has successfully operated the buildings-focused, cohort-based, growth-stage accelerator program in New York since 2020, making them an ideal partner to co-develop the Empire Tech Prize alongside NYSERDA's Innovation and Buildings Decarbonization Teams.

New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Governor Hochul is taking real action to curb carbon emissions in our built environment, including affordable housing developments, in order to achieve New York's aggressive climate goals. The Empire Buildings Challenge will leverage partnerships with real estate teams to decarbonize residential high rises and help create a cleaner and greener New York for the future. Congratulations to Amalgamated Housing Corporation for being selected for this important challenge that will establish a scalable model for reducing emissions across the state's housing portfolio."

Assemblymember Michael Cusick said: “I am excited to see these new partners join the Empire Buildings Challenge. As we continue the fight to address the impacts of climate change, it will require key partners to help lead the way to decarbonizing New York’s buildings sector.

I want to congratulate Governor Hochul and NYSERDA for continuing to advance this critical work to achieve the State’s Climate and Clean Energy goals."

Ed Yaker, Board Treasurer, Amalgamated Housing Corporation said, "From the beginning Amalgamated founders and pioneers demonstrated that limited equity cooperative housing offers an excellent way to bring affordable home ownership to working families of moderate means. Today we are proud to partner with NYSERDA in demonstrating that existing residential buildings can be retrofitted with innovative energy approaches to reduce energy consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce costs, and improve comfort for residents of affordable and cooperative housing."

Ben Myers, Vice President, Sustainability, Boston Properties, Inc. (BXP) said, "At BXP, we are committed to carbon-neutral operations and the advancement of built environment climate action, Climate action is collective action and alongside our partners at Norges Bank Investment Management, we are thrilled to pursue this decarbonization initiative at 601 Lexington Avenue."

Michael Daschle, Senior Vice President, Sustainability, Brookfield Properties said, "We're excited to demonstrate our continued commitment to achieving net zero carbon by partnering with leading industry professionals and NYSERDA to identify scalable, effective solutions to drive meaningful reductions in carbon emissions in our properties. We see immense opportunity in collaborating in these types of initiatives to support the successful transition to a net zero economy."

Mark J. Parrell, President and CEO, Equity Residential, said, "Participating in the Empire State Building Challenge is an opportunity for Equity Residential to help advance the development of the technology necessary to decarbonize buildings and meet our Company's and New York City's aggressive carbon reduction goals. We look forward to collaborating with NYSERDA to innovate and set new design standards for energy efficiency and for the electrification of existing apartment properties."

Christopher D. Colasanti, PE, LEED AP, CEA, Associate Partner, JB&B, said, "The Empire Building Challenge is a commitment to achieving carbon neutrality that advances a local vision with a global mission for a healthier built environment."

Marylou Berk, Senior Managing Director, Commercial Real Estate, LeFrak Organization said, "LeFrak is proud to participate in the Empire Building Challenge in partnership with NYSERDA and other real estate industry leaders. This opportunity will allow us to show that the decarbonization of high-rise commercial buildings in New York State is feasible and replicable, which is a critical step in meeting the state's climate goals."

Jonathan Flaherty, Managing Director, Global Head of Sustainability and Buildings Technologies, Tishman Speyer said, "Tishman Speyer is dedicated to the health and well-being of our customers and to minimizing our environmental impact throughout the communities we serve. We are grateful to New York State and NYSERDA for their strong leadership in combatting climate change. The lessons learned through this initiative will help inform our ongoing efforts to achieve net zero across our entire 87 million square-foot global portfolio."

Kate Frucher, Managing Director, The Clean Fight said, "The Clean Fight is honored to have been selected to administer the Empire Technology Prize. This Prize is the kind of bold action that's critical if we are to solve one of New York's toughest climate challenges. We're excited to create this prize with NYSERDA to find and scale ground-breaking technologies from the US and around the world that can tackle the thorny issue of decarbonizing tall buildings, quickly and equitably."

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

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 $35 billion in 120 large-scale renewable and transmission 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 $1.6 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting nearly 158,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2020, 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.