In cities like New York City, buildings are responsible for more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. By making energy-efficiency retrofits and upgrades, building owners can be major contributors to emission reductions in urban centers. One of the most iconic buildings in the world, the Empire State Building is leading the way in urban sustainability, working in collaboration with numerous partners to become carbon neutral — and sharing a building decarbonization playbook that others can follow to do the same.
The Empire Building Playbook is a virtual resource that shares innovative developments and replicable processes learned by building owners, engineers, real estate developers, and more to decarbonize buildings.
The Playbook was produced by a team from Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT) and the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) using key findings from the Empire Building Challenge. The Challenge invites building owners to develop sustainability strategies for their buildings following New York’s introduction of ambitious policies to significantly reduce fossil fuel consumption from buildings or face significant fines.
Through the Challenge, NYSERDA provided $50 million in funding to a group of high-rise building owners to test innovative green retrofit solutions. Reos Partners facilitated a series of workshops that convened key stakeholders to share their learnings and ideas coming out of the Empire Building Challenge. These findings inspired the Playbook, the goal of which is to provide a building decarbonization blueprint that owners and real estate developers can replicate.
“We supported NYSERDA in developing the program, identifying which of the metrics to focus on, and a high-level process to follow,” says Jon Walton of Reos Partners. “Our fundamental question was, how do we develop a process that supports people in increasing their capability to execute change at this level? NYSERDA sees this as helpful to the entire system. They have a platform and a highly visible city. If they can figure it out, it becomes a lot easier for others to see that and do something similar.”
Michael Reed who leads Advanced Efficiency Solutions at NYSERDA says the following about Reos’ impact:
Reos achieved a couple of critical things: First, they helped build the team and ensure that, as the project unfolded, the team was investing in one another, sharing information, etc. So often you can start a project with good intentions related to keeping people informed and taking time to make sure everybody’s on the same page, but then as the project is executed, that gets put to the side in the name of efficiency and achieving a goal.
“We’re very proud of the Playbook, but we want to frame this as a call to action. We’re only just getting started and there are so many opportunities in this space. We invite and encourage people to engage with the Playbook and to give us feedback,” he concludes.
Learn more about the Empire Building Playbook and Reos Partners’ involvement below.
Reos content about the project
Explore the Playbook and Knowledge Base
Read more about the initiative in the media
- TIME: The Empire State Building’s Green Retrofit Was a Success. Will Other Buildings Follow Suit?
- Canary Media: How to get New York City’s biggest buildings to zero carbon
- Vornado: Empire State Realty Trust pledge total carbon neutrality by 2035
- Urban Green Council: Recovery Through Retrofits
- Washington Post: Empire State of Green
- New York Times: New York Developers Rush to Reduce Emissions as Hefty Fines Loom
- Empire Building Press Release: Governor Hochul Announces Playbook for Advancing Carbon Neutrality in High Rise Buildings
New York Governor Announces Empire Building Playbook
Cover photo by Aaron Burson on Unsplash