Empire Building Challenge

Incorporating low-carbon technologies, design and construction practices into retrofits can help increase your buildings’ asset value, tenant satisfaction, safety, and meet regulatory compliance. Tall buildings, particularly in New York City, face a unique set of technical barriers to decarbonization. Height, density and system complexity make it significantly more challenging to find technical pathways to carbon neutrality for New York's largest buildings.

The goal of the Empire Building Challenge is to support real estate portfolio owners of tall buildings in their effort to achieve carbon neutrality, while fostering partnerships between owners and the world's’ most innovative technology developers, manufacturers, and solution providers. A multifaceted approach to research, design, and planning will deliver low-carbon retrofit projects that demonstrate replicable and scalable solutions to reduce buildings' energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions across New York State.

How it Works

In Part I of the Empire Building Challenge, NYSERDA will establish partnerships with a select number of leading commercial and multifamily real estate portfolio owners and occupants that make a commitment to bringing one or more buildings in their portfolio to carbon neutrality by 2030-2035. Partners will have the opportunity to help set the market standard for high-performing tall buildings in New York and increase their portfolio’s asset value by adopting cutting-edge low-carbon solutions.

In Part 2, partners will have the opportunity to receive up to $5 million for replicable and scalable low-carbon retrofit proposals. Only partners selected through the Part I application process will be eligible to submit full proposals under Part 2.

Partners will have access to:

  • Up to $250,000 per partner during Part I for the technical planning work necessary to develop detailed plans and roadmaps for low-carbon retrofit proposals.
  • Up to $5 million per partner in Part 2 funding, for replicable and scalable low carbon retrofit proposals to be awarded on a competitive basis.
  • Technical research conducted by Rocky Mountain Institute and the NYSERDA Empire Building Challenge initiative team on cutting-edge, low-carbon technologies.
  • Support from the research team on evaluating which technologies are appropriate for partner building portfolios.
  • A leadership position in a public-private partnership to help shape New York State's pathways to achieving carbon neutrality in existing tall buildings while also supporting economic recovery objectives outlined in the Governor's "Build Back Better" strategy.
  • Support in obtaining utility incentives and coordination with partner utility account representatives.
  • Promotion of partner decarbonization commitments and retrofit projects on NYSERDA’s website, associated marketing materials, and via New York State press releases and marketing campaigns.

Who Can Apply

Commercial and multifamily real estate portfolio owners, developers, and occupants that meet minimum threshold criteria to become a Qualified Empire Building Challenge partner are eligible to apply. Buildings must be located in New York State and contribute to the System Benefits Charge on any electric utility account at candidate buildings.

How to Apply

Applications for Part I must be submitted electronically through the online portalLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

Informational Webinar

NYSERDA hosted an informational webinar on October 1, 2020.

View WebinarLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.

View the Question and Answer Guide [PDF]

Learn More

Read the funding opportunityLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. for full eligibility and application details.