Competition Advances Carbon Neutral Buildings in New York State and Continues Early Design Support for Design Teams and Developers

May 23, 2024

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced $10 million in funding is now available under round five of the $68 million Buildings of Excellence Competition. The Competition aims to advance carbon neutral buildings in New York by providing financial awards and recognition for the design and construction of resilient, climate-friendly buildings that are healthier for residents and their communities. This one-of-a-kind Competition advances the State’s nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050.

“The time for addressing climate change is now, and New York State is doubling down on our commitment to a path toward carbon neutral buildings,” Governor Hochul said. “By continuing the Building of Excellence Competition, we are investing in partners who are driving real change with beautiful, resilient zero-emission buildings that improve quality of life and inspire the industry to follow their example.”

The Buildings of Excellence Competition is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and with today’s announcement, proposals are being accepted from developers and their design teams from across the state for early-stage design projects that integrate carbon neutral features into pre-schematic and schematic design phases, and lead to the cost-effective construction and completion of exemplary multifamily buildings.

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “New York continues to lead the way in encouraging scalable and replicable solutions in its building stock to advance the State’s nation-leading climate and clean energy goals. Through this new round of the Buildings of Excellence Competition, we are seeking to capture the creative energies of the best and brightest who will design and construct buildings with smaller carbon footprints that are more comfortable and healthier for tenants.”

The competition welcomes applications for projects that employ high performance envelopes, support converting institutional, office, or retail space to housing, and demonstrate cost compression in high-rise buildings. The competition is structured to prioritize funding for projects that leverage technology that uses the least amount of energy during peak times and relies on refrigerants with lower global warming potential. Projects employing geothermal heat pump systems for space conditioning will have access to a higher level of funding (up to $1 million per project, based on square footage) than those that do not.

Proposals to the Competition’s solicitation for demonstration projects will be accepted through September 18, 2024, at 3:00 p.m. Applications to secure Early Design Support funding will be accepted on a continuous basis through December 31, 2025 or until funds are exhausted. For more information on participating as an Early Design Support partner or accessing this funding, please visit NYSERDA’s website Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Reducing hazardous emissions in our building sector is a pivotal part of Governor Hochul's ambitious climate agenda, and NYSERDA’s $68 million Buildings of Excellence competition is vital to this effort. This $10 million 5th round investment will join the four previous rounds to encourage state-of-the-art carbon-neutral construction that results in a cleaner environment and healthier, more affordable homes for residents across New York, particularly in disadvantaged communities.”

Architecture League of New York Executive Director Jacob Moore said, “The launch of the fifth round of NYSERDA's Buildings of Excellence Competition makes possible more—and ever more necessary—catalyzing, supporting, and spotlighting projects by designers and developers who are undertaking ambitious efforts to create a more resilient, low-carbon future for New Yorkers. The Architectural League remains proud to work with NYSERDA to make overall design quality—including integral relationships with building sites; strong connections to community assets, including public transportation; and focused emphases on health, comfort, and aesthetic delight—an essential focus of Buildings of Excellence projects.”

American Institute of Architects Interim Executive Director Jesse Lazar said, “NYSERDA’s ongoing investment in the future of clean and resilient housing across New York State is admirable and necessary. Buildings of Excellence offers a roadmap for our community to continue to advocate for great and thoughtful regenerative design that truly moves the needle when it comes to healthier living for all New Yorkers. AIA New York is proudly committed to our partnership with NYSERDA and looks forward to celebrating the winning projects.”

Launched in 2019, the Competition provides financial awards and recognition for the design, construction, and operation of resilient, carbon neutral buildings that offer predictable revenue and costs. Through financial awards in the early stages of design, the Competition revolutionizes the new construction and adaptive reuse of multifamily housing and mixed-use space by showing that these buildings can be built cost-competitively to traditional fossil-fuel powered dwellings.

Additionally, the Competition prioritizes housing and energy affordability, supporting the Climate Act’s goal to ensure that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments support disadvantaged communities. 65 state-of-the-art new construction and gut-renovation projects have been awarded through four rounds of the Competition, and more than two-thirds of these high-performing new construction buildings serve affordable housing markets, with 37 located in disadvantaged communities Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. More information about the Competition can be found on NYSERDA's website.

Today’s announcement complements New York’s ongoing investments to modernize the State’s building stock. 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 healthier and more comfortable buildings. Through NYSERDA and utility programs, over $6.8 billion is being invested to decarbonize buildings to achieve the State's goals, including NYSERDA's more than $150 million investment in new construction, adaptive reuse, and gut rehab projects in the multifamily building sector for both market rate and low- to moderate-income properties.

Funding for this program is through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and $6 billion Clean Energy Fund.

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

New York State's climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues to foster a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is advancing a suite of efforts – including the New York Cap-and-Invest program (NYCI) and other complementary policies – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels. New York is also on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and economywide carbon neutrality by mid-century. A cornerstone of this transition is New York's unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $28 billion in 61 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the State, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $3.3 billion to scale up solar, nearly $3 billion for clean transportation initiatives and over $2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. These and other investments are supporting more than 170,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector as of 2022 and over 3,000 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, New York also adopted zero-emission vehicle regulations, including requiring all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold in the State be zero emission by 2035. Partnerships are continuing to advance New York’s climate action with more than 400 registered and more than 130 certified Climate Smart Communities, nearly 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the State’s largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the State to help target air pollution and combat climate change.