Six groups chosen to build climate-friendly buildings across New York State

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Image from brochure explaining project buildings: Tower 1 and Tower 2, 3965 – 3975 Sedgwick Ave., Bronx

New York Construction News staff writer

Six real estate groups were selected in the second round of the $50 million Empire Buildings Challenge to advance climate-friendly buildings in New York State. Also, the third round is now open.

New York’s Empire Building Challenge was designed to speed up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050 and to develop two million climate-friendly homes.

“Transitioning to a carbon-neutral economy means taking bold steps today that will have significant impact tomorrow,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement. “Groundbreaking investments through the Empire Building Challenge are transforming how the building industry develops and implements climate-friendly solutions – a crucial part of our efforts to modernize our buildings, improve air quality, and provide more energy-efficient living and workspaces for the next generation of New Yorkers.”

The six partners will now implement a replicable, low-carbon retrofit demonstration project addressing one or more barriers to decarbonizing their building(s). These awards also unlock over $57 million in private investment from Challenge real estate partners while attracting solution providers globally to bring innovation and business investment to New York State.

The six projects include:

Amalgamated Housing Corporation (AHC)

  • Awarded: $3 million
  • Team includes: En-Power Group and Egg Geo
  • Buildings: Tower 1 and Tower 2, 3965 – 3975 Sedgwick Ave., Bronx, NY 10463
  • Affordable housing properties, 316 units, 20 stories, 425,000 sq. ft.

BXP

  • Awarded: $1.1 million
  • Team includes: Jaros, Baum & Bolles and Norges Bank Investment Management
  • Building: 601 Lexington Ave., New York, NY
  • Commercial office building, 59 stories, 1.5 million sq. ft.

Brookfield Properties

  • Awarded: $3 million
  • Team includes: Cosentini Associates
  • Building:660 5th Ave., New York, NY 10022
  • Commercial office building, 41 stories, 1.4 million sq. ft.

LeFrak Organization

  • Awarded: $3 million
  • Team includes: Steven Winters Associates, Inc. and Ryan Soames Engineering
  • Buildings: 59-17 Junction Blvd., Queens, NY 11371
  • Commercial office building, 20 stories, 396,000 sq. ft.

Tishman Speyer

  • Awarded: $3 million
  • Team includes: Jaros, Baum & Bolles Consulting Engineers, LLP, and Brightcore
  • Building: 520 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022
  • Commercial office building, 43 stories, 1 million sq. ft.

Vornado

  • Awarded: $1 million
  • Team includes: Jaros, Baum & Bolles Consulting Engineers
  • Building: PENN 1 Plaza, New York, NY
  • Commercial office building, 57 stories, 2.5 million sq. ft.

“The Empire Building Challenge is spurring economic growth and renewal in New York by attracting best-in-class manufacturers, solution providers, and entrepreneurs from around the world to team up with the state’s leading real estate leaders to help convert our existing building stock into the buildings of the future,” said NYSERDA president and CEO Doreen M. Harris. “These new partnerships are bringing forward promising, novel and scalable solutions for our high-rise buildings that set new design standards, directly enhance conditions for occupants, and reduce energy costs –while helping make New York the epicenter for low carbon retrofit industry.”

NYSERDA evaluated proposals based on a project’s scalability and feasibility in addressing the major challenges of decarbonizing high-rise buildings, as well as the building owner’s willingness and ability to implement solutions across their portfolio of buildings. Additional details can be found on all retrofit projects on the website.

Round three:

NYSERDA is seeking teams to submit applications on retrofit approaches that can identify replicable technical and economic pathways to phase out on-site fossil fuel use while also increasing comfort and performance for those living in multifamily buildings, one of the hardest-to-decarbonize building types. Selected partners will receive up to $100,000 in technical assistance support and be eligible to submit low carbon retrofit proposals to a competitive funding round, anticipated in summer of 2024.

Eligibility criteria includes:

  • The building owner must have a decarbonization project proposal ready for implementation before the end of 2025;
  • The building owner must apply to the program in partnership with a technical lead, such as a Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) engineering firm;
  • The building owner must advance buildings for participation in this program that contain at least 50 housing units;
  • The building owner’s public commitment to carbon reduction within their New York State building portfolio is one of the key scoring criteria.

Applications are due by 3:00 p.m. on Nov. 16, 2023, and the selection of winners is expected in January 2024.

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