State, NYC launch Earth Week initiatives promoting energy-efficient buildings

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — State and city officials, along with a former president, announced new initiatives this week promoting energy efficient buildings.

On Thursday, former President Bill Clinton, Gov. Kathy Hochul, and Mayor Eric Adams announced the “Empire Building Playbook: An Owner’s Guide to Low Carbon Retrofits.”

The online resource supports high-rise building owners with the best practices to retrofit their buildings to low carbon levels while achieving commercially-acceptable returns on investment, according to a media release from Hochul’s office.

“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,” 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.”

Officials developed the playbook in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA, 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.

The work builds on prior efforts from the Clinton Global Initiative, part of former president’s Clinton Foundation that seeks to address major global problems. Clinton touted the initiative as not only beneficial to the environment, but also as an economic boon.

“If you believe New York should have more jobs, if you believe that we should avoid the worst consequences of climate change, if you don’t want to see the rising waters flood the south end of Manhattan, do this,” he said. “Give people the dignity of work, create new businesses, and clean the air. We know, now, we don’t have any excuse. Our grandchildren are depending on it.”

On Friday, Adams announced a city-based initiative, “Building Action NYC,” that will seek to educate New Yorkers about the importance of energy-efficient buildings, and the best ways to reduce building carbon emissions.

The city’s one million buildings make up the largest source of the city’s carbon emissions, contributing almost 70% of the city’s total emissions, according to a media release from the mayor’s office.

Over the next month, “Building Action NYC” will seek to raise awareness about the “NYC Accelerator” program, how the work supports environmental justice communities and affordable housing, and the need for decarbonization.

New Yorkers will find campaign messaging on storefront windows, broadcast radio, and online.

“NYC Accelerator” helps building owners, property managers, and developers access free support to reduce carbon emissions, lower costs, and comply with local laws designed to help the city reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

So far, the program has helped almost 10,000 buildings and their owners, including the Fairview Owners Corporation — the cooperative residence in Forest Hills, Queens that was the site of Adams’ Earth Day announcement.

“We must become a carbon-neutral city, but we can only do that if we decarbonize our buildings, and we are going to ‘get stuff done’ and make it happen,” Adams said.

“Buildings are the largest emitters of carbon, so we are investing in bringing renewable energy to them and making New York City a national leader in green buildings — creating tens of thousands of jobs for New Yorkers and delivering environmental justice for our city.”

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