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Empire Building Challenge Partner Reimaging Low-carbon Buildings

Leveraging end-of-life building upgrades to support decarbonization and ensure resiliency

59-17 Junction Boulevard, developed by LeFrak Commercial, highlights the crucial intersection between decarbonization and resiliency. The 454,645 square foot, 20-story commercial property located in Queens, NY was built in 1970 and features an inefficient 2-pipe heating and cooling system that has reached the end of its useful life, due in part to damage sustained by Hurricane Ida.

Lefrak building 59-17 Junction Boulevard.


59-17 Junction Boulevard, Queens, New York

NYSERDA investment

total project to install Empire Building Challenge retrofits to enable electrification and heat recovery of thermal loads at the property and reduce site energy use intensity by 33%.

As part of their participation in the Empire Building Challenge, LeFrak will complete a significant decarbonization project valued at $19.7 million, resulting in the overall reduction of onsite fossil fuels by 2035. The measures aim to electrify and recover heat of thermal loads at the property, immediately reducing site energy use by over 33% from a 2021 baseline.

LeFrak’s project highlights the intersection between decarbonization and resiliency, in which necessary upgrades can be leveraged to integrate low-carbon solutions and safeguard critical building systems from future climate impacts. 

“LeFrak is proud to work in partnership with NYSERDA and the Empire Building Challenge to advance the real estate industry’s ability to decarbonize high-rise buildings. We recognize the importance of leading the path to carbon neutrality and are committed to working together to rethink our building environment."

- John Fitzsimmons, Senior Director, Head of Commercial Property Management for LeFrak



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..