New York’s skyscrapers are changing, as part of ambitious goal to slash emissions
The buildings that make up New York’s iconic skyline account for about 70 per cent of the city’s carbon emissions.
NEW YORK: Slashing building emissions is crucial to achieve New York’s ambitious climate goals, and the city is ramping up efforts to turn its skyscrapers into models of sustainability.
The buildings that make up New York’s iconic skyline account for about 70 per cent of the city’s carbon emissions, because much of the energy for heating, cooling and lighting comes from burning fossil fuels.
However, a law passed three years ago aims to change that. From 2024, certain buildings larger than 25,000 sq ft will be penalised if they miss their emission targets.
Building Energy Exchange executive director Richard Yancey said: “You’re going to have to come in under a certain threshold in terms of your building’s emissions or you’ll have to pay a fine.”
CUTTING NEW YORK'S BUILDING EMISSIONS
The goal is to cut the city’s building emissions by 40 per cent - compared to 2005 levels - by 2030, and by 80 per cent by 2050.
Some iconic buildings are already making some big changes.
The Empire State Building, for instance, has cut emissions by half after installing features such as LED lights and highly insulated windows. It has a goal of net zero emissions by the end of the decade.
Mr Aki Karja, proptech director at real estate company Fairstead, said: “The city is helping with financing those projects and then they’re providing incentives to make those projects happen, which I think is really crucial in order to meet these pretty ambitious goals.”
Officials urged real estate firms across the state to adopt emissions-reducing solutions and retrofit older buildings initially constructed to rely on fossil fuels.
FINDING INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS
In 2020, New York State launched the Empire Building Challenge to task companies to develop solutions to cut emissions. These ideas can then be scaled up for wider adoption.
The state is providing US$50 million in funding for firms to test innovative emission-reducing strategies, including replacing inefficient heating systems and improving building efficiency through retrofits.
Mr Michael Reed, an assistant director at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, said: “Efforts like the Empire Building Challenge … focus on demonstrating novel approaches that are really helpful to the broader marketplace, to illustrate what can be done and spur that competitive instinct.”
The challenge aims to bring fresh emission-reducing solutions to 5.6 million sq ft of high-rise buildings across New York.
Mr Michael Daschle of real estate firm Brookfield Properties said: “It’s very transparent, so every partner of the Empire Building Challenge has committed to share the results of its projects, and basically share the lessons learned that can be scaled across other similar properties in the portfolio and even similar properties in other markets.”