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Boston Properties, Inc. (BXP)

New York County

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Empire Building Challenge Partner Reimaging Low-carbon Buildings

Iconic midtown tower modernizes by recycling heat

As a partner of the Empire Building Challenge, BXP will complete a decarbonization pilot project at 601 Lexington Avenue. The 1.52 million square foot, 59-story, multi-tenant premier workplace in midtown Manhattan was constructed in 1977 and features building systems typical among commercial high-rises of a similar vintage. The innovative measures planned for implementation demonstrate a scalable and replicable decarbonization opportunity within a difficult-to-decarbonize building type.


601 Lexington Avenue, New York City

  • 1.5 million square feet
  • 59 stories
  • Built in 1977
  • Energy grade: B
  • 2019 Site EUI: 86.3
  • Façade: curtain wall with anodized aluminum panels and reflective double-pane horizontal glazing
  • Heating: district steam
  • Cooling: central plant with electric chillers and rooftop cooling tower

NYSERDA investment

total project to install Empire Building Challenge retrofits 

601 Lexington Avenue building.

As part of their demonstration project, BXP will install water-to-water heat pumps to transfer heat from the condenser water loop to secondary water systems. Recovered heat will then be used to offset perimeter heating loads. By deploying existing technology in a novel way, this project creates a thermal network which utilizes heat that would otherwise be rejected to the atmosphere from the building’s cooling system. BXP will reduce the building’s annual steam consumption by over 30% with this innovative thermal system. 


  • BXP
  • Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) 
  • JB&B


  • Installation of water-to-water heat pumps will allow recovery of condenser water waste heat for re-use in the building’s perimeter heating system

"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."

-Ben Myers, Vice President, Sustainability, Boston Properties, Inc. (BXP)

The Empire Building Challenge

The Empire Building Challenge (EBC) is a $50 million investment by New York State to demonstrate different pathways for achieving carbon neutrality in tall buildings. Through the establishment of a private-public partnership with leading real estate owners and their engineering experts, exciting approaches to cold climate decarbonization are being tested in the New York market. The EBC’s new Retrofit Playbook for Large Buildings Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. includes step-by-step guidance and real-world case studies for decarbonizing and modernizing a range of building types. With the potential to replicate these solutions across real estate controlled by the first cohort of Empire Building Challenge partners and beyond, the impact of each project will accelerate New York’s progress toward the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s (Climate Act) Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 85% by 2050.

Discover the Challenge

Explore additional decarbonization case studies and resources for building professionals in the Retrofit Playbook for Large Buildings Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..