The State of New York today released “The Empire Building Playbook: An Owner’s Guide to Low Carbon Retrofits” – a free online resource to support building owners advancing carbon neutrality in high rise buildings. The Retrofit Playbook was created in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Empire State Realty Trust, The Durst Organization, Hudson Square Properties, a joint venture comprised of Trinity Church Wall Street, Norges Bank Investment Management, and Hines, and Vornado.
This joint venture is four of ten real estate partners participating in New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s $50 million Empire Building Challenge. This guiding framework includes information from the partners who share their processes and lessons learned to develop the business case for profitable investment in significant energy and carbon reducing technologies, in support of the State’s nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal of reducing carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050.
“Through public-private partnerships like the Empire Building Challenge, we are reducing New York’s reliance on fossil fuels by introducing low-carbon solutions that will advance our state’s nation-leading climate agenda,” Governor Kathey Hochul said. “The Empire Building Playbook will be a critical tool to combat climate change and reduce harmful emissions across our state, all while moving forward with the green economy, creating clean energy job opportunities, and making the most iconic buildings in the New York skyline more sustainable.”
Empire Building Playbook Gives Developers Guidance on Low-Carbon Retrofitting
Significant findings from the Playbook include:
- Focusing on how to reduce, recycle and store heat is a primary way to drive down buildings’ greenhouse gas emissions and achieve a strong return on investment.
- A resource efficient approach to electrification for big buildings phases out fossil fuels while reducing peak power consumption, providing relief to the electric grid now and in the future.
- Small steps create a large impact with incremental investments achieving significant carbon reduction over time.
- Traditional energy audits are not enough and decarbonization requires a rigorous systems analysis of whole-building heating and cooling, ventilation, domestic hot water and envelope. Building owners, engineers, and solution providers must collaborate to choose solutions that are both technically and financially viable.
- Tenants are key. Building owners will accelerate investments in climate-friendly office spaces if tenants demonstrate demand.
The Playbook is available as an online resource containing the results of the four partners’ in-depth analysis of one building in each of their portfolios to identify replicable pathways to retrofit high rise buildings to low carbon levels of performance and achieve commercially acceptable returns on investment.
This work includes case studies, guidance, and project-specific technical information on best practices for building owners to achieve deep energy and carbon reductions at their properties and comply with local laws such as New York City’s Local Law 97, as well as respond to tenant and investor demands. Co-developed with NYSERDA and other NYC-based landlords, and building on work supported by the Clinton Global Initiative, the innovative guide outlines the step-by-step process for existing commercial buildings to develop a pathway to carbon neutrality.
The insights shared support replication with the potential for application across entire real estate portfolios while demonstrating the technical and economic feasibility of the proposed solutions that can catalyze the wider marketplace. Additional case studies will be added to the Playbook over time, highlighting the work of Empire Building Challenge partners to showcase decarbonization pathways for a variety of buildings. This includes a wide variety of commercial office buildings, multifamily affordable housing buildings, and buildings located in disadvantaged communities, supporting the goal of an equitable transition to clean energy that values the comfort and health of all New Yorkers.
“Building owners and operators across New York City and the State can now access insights and lessons from real estate leaders driving change and accelerating our transition to climate-friendly buildings,” New York State Energy Research Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said.
“The Playbook builds on our work through the Empire Building Challenge to develop pathways that all building owners can follow to reduce carbon emissions at commercially acceptable returns, which supports Governor Hochul’s commitment to achieve 2 million climate-friendly homes by 2030.”