Hidden Image

Vornado Realty Trust

New York County

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

Empire Building Challenge Partner Reimaging Low-carbon Buildings

PENN 1 innovates with cutting-edge heat recovery technologies to reduce carbon emissions

Vornado Realty Trust is spearheading a groundbreaking retrofit at 1 Pennsylvania Plaza (PENN 1) in New York City, aiming to reach 100% carbon neutrality by 2040. PENN 1 is a fifty-seven-story skyscraper located in midtown Manhattan, which encompasses nearly 2.5 million square feet of commercial office and retail spaces.

The roadmap to carbon neutrality at PENN 1, developed through the Empire Building Challenge, includes advanced waterside heat recovery measures. This strategy focuses on capturing and reusing heat from the building's condenser water loop, that would normally be rejected into the atmosphere and reuse it to reduce heating loads of the building. This heat recovery approach is essential to the phase-out of the existing cogeneration plant and allow for electrification via air source heat pumps and thermal storage. The PENN 1 project demonstrates a 'thermal dispatch model,' in which carbon-free energy sources are gradually deployed to fulfill the heating and cooling demands of a large commercial building.

The thermal dispatch approach utilized at PENN 1 allows the building to intelligently prioritize low-carbon thermal resources for operational building needs ahead of those that are more carbon intensive. This strategy, enabled by electrification of heating loads and heat recovery measures, will reduce energy use by 22% and carbon emissions by 38% by 2030. By adopting this innovative approach, Vornado aims to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of PENN 1 while also setting a replicable model for building decarbonization in New York City.

Vornado Realty Trust building at 1 Pennsylvania Plaza.


PENN 1, 1 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York City

NYSERDA investment

total investment to install Empire Building Challenge retrofits




About Vornado

Vornado Realty Trust is a fully integrated real estate investment trust, with over 34 million square feet of owned and managed assets located across New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco. In New York City, Vornado’s portfolio spans some 34 million square feet of office, retail, hotel, and residential spaces. As part of their Vision 2030, released in April 2020, Vornado has committed to carbon neutrality across their portfolio by 2030, which includes a 50% site energy reduction.

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..