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55 Water Street

New York County

New York County highlighted on a map of New York State over a green and white bokeh dot background.

One of Manhattan’s Most Iconic Buildings is Guided to Huge Energy Savings With an On-site Energy Manager.

Built in 1972, 55 Water Street is the largest office building in Manhattan. This Class A commercial building, with 3.2M square feet of rentable space, is well equipped and well operated. It is also one of the country’s largest buildings with a “U.S. Green Building Council” LEED Gold Certification.

The money saved in energy reductions far surpassed the money spent to hire an energy manager.

Its ownership and management teams are passionate about pursuing sustainability initiatives to reduce the building’s carbon footprint and environmental impact.

In 2021, New Water Street Corp. was approved for a cost-share with NYSERDA to hire an on-site energy manager (OsEM). Building management was looking forward to working with on-site expert who could help with sustainability initiatives and work with the building’s operations team.

Project at a Glance

Company name: New Water Street Corp

Site name: 55 Water Street

Location: New York, NY

Building size: 3,652,582 Square Feet

Building type: Multi-Tenant Commercial Office

Utilities: Electricity, District Steam

Annual Utility Savings at a Glance


1,671,330 kWh electric savings,
with another 16,000,000 kWh in progress


41,839 MMBTU steam savings per year,
with another 60,000 MMBTU in progress

Cost savings with OsEM: $1,363,862,
with another $4,000,000 in various states of progress

Phase-One Discoveries

Over the course of 12 months, the OsEM’s focused recommendations for near- and long-term improvements.

Steam accounted for 45% of the building’s energy use. Therefore, the energy manager’s first priority was a full steam audit. Steam leaks were quickly identified and corrected. Additional suggestions were made to improve pressure control and insulation, which provided immediate benefits. More nuanced measures, such as eliminating separate heating and cooling systems in favor of heat pumps, were investigated.

An interesting feature of the site was its on-site ice storage plant. Ice made at night (when demand for electricity was lowest and less expensive) was used for space cooling during the day (when demand for electricity was high and costly).

However, the energy manager made a recommendation to improve on-site thermal storage by using the ice storage plant to supplement heating as well. The ability to use ice year-round, for both heating and cooling, would dramatically reduce the building’s reliance on steam.

Less Steam, More Electricity

Further measures that either introduced electricity, or made its use more efficient included:

Exceeding Savings Targets

Prior to hiring the OsEM, Water Street Corp developed an anticipated target of 2% yearly savings for steam and 2% for electricity. After the OsEM, the installed measures mentioned above resulted in a combined 15% reduction in the building’s total energy use, which translated into a whopping 733% energy savings compared to the target.

Energy Model Inputs Baseline Energy Use Target Energy Savings Installed Energy Savings % Installed Savings Against Target % Installed Savings Over Baseline
Electric (kWh) 65,503,166 1,310,063 1,671,330 128% 2.6%
Fossil Fuel (MMBtu) 100,790 2,016 41,839 2076% 41.5%
Total (MMBtu) 324,287 6,486 47,542 733% 14.7%
Illustration of target vs installed savings.

Ongoing Energy Savings

The building’s efficiency profile now includes such energy-savings activities as retro-commissioning, removable jackets for regularly maintained valves/devices on the steam and chilled water loops and building automation system upgrades with advanced control algorithms.

Ongoing data gathering and analysis from these upgrades will shed further light on the benefits and feasibility of future energy improvement and electrification projects already under consideration as a result of the OsEM program.

Ongoing Relationships

As of 2023, Water Street Corp continues an active and productive relationship with both NYSERDA and with the energy manager.

After a full year on site, between 2021-2022, the energy manager knows the building well and continues to consult on improvements. These ongoing relationships highlight how shared goals can result in mutually beneficial outcomes.

OsEM proved to be a huge success for 55 Water Street. Even though it's a big building with big everything, the energy team was able to tackle a variety of operation and maintenance improvements, understand energy data streams contributing to their carbon footprint, and plan for a future that involves some very progressive engineering concepts to maintain flexibility as energy markets shift.


The Path to Whole-Building Electrification

This partial list of improvements illustrates some amazing transformations the building either has or will experience in the near future:

Exercises and Achievement Milestones - Completed

  1. Evaluated carbon profile, energy usage and utility cost by NWSC management
  2. Benchmarked the building to other buildings like it by NWSC management
  3. Decided to take action to setup the next decade of building energy management by NWSC management
  4. Hired OsEM
  5. Set energy goals and metrics of success
  6. Formed energy team and structured regular update cadence
  7. Conducted lighting, insulation, controls, envelope, tenant, central plant, and heating audits
  8. Identified operations & maintenance improvements
  9. Conceptualized the future of various systems
  10. Provide costing, impact, and logistics behind conservation measures
  11. Helped management through the start of several project kick-offs including building automation system upgrade, lighting upgrade, retro-commissioning, and electrification analysis.
  12. Implemented LED upgrade Phase I: 539,000 kWh saved
  13. Implemented LED upgrade Phase II: 120,000 kWh saved
  14. Implemented steam trap repairs: 4,304 MMBTU saved
  15. Implemented domestic hot water leak repairs: 26,000 MMBTU saved

Long-Term and Capital Investments – Future Goals

This list developed by the energy manager includes five intensive solutions requiring significant capital investment.

  1. Establish vision of whole building electrification: 78,000 MMBTU potential savings
  2. Oversee advanced controls implementation: 10,000,000 kWh potential savings
  3. Engage tenants through Real Time Energy Management and advanced metering
  4. Provide data analytics to guide base building and tenants
  5. Investigate on-site renewable energy

Want to identify areas for improvement, increase your buildings energy efficiency, and lower operating costs?

Visit NYSERDA’s On-site Energy Manager program page or contact us at [email protected].