Vornado, Empire State Realty Trust pledge total carbon neutrality by 2035

10 major NY landlords join public-private partnership to support Cuomo’s emissions goal

From left to right: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Tony Malkin, Larry Silverstein, Douglas Durst, Steven Roth and Bill Rudin. (Getty)
From left to right: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Tony Malkin, Larry Silverstein, Douglas Durst, Steven Roth and Bill Rudin. (Getty)

Empire State Realty Trust and Vornado Realty Trust have committed to reaching carbon neutrality across their entire New York state real estate portfolios by 2035.

The firms, which together account for more than 16 million square feet of real estate in New York, are two of 10 major landlords that entered a new public-private partnership with the state, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced Wednesday.

Launched in September, the “Empire Building Challenge” is aimed at supporting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s long-term goal of reducing the state’s overall carbon emissions by 85 percent by 2050.

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The cohort of 10 landlords — which also includes the Durst Organization, Rudin Management and Silverstein Properties — will be eligible to submit decarbonization proposals to NYSERDA by July 31 to compete for up to $5 million each in funding to implement the program. A total of $27 million is available in this round, but more will be available in the future, according to the state.

Beam Living, Hudson Square Properties, Jonathan Rose Companies, L+M Development Partners, Invesco and Omni New York round out the group. Altogether, the landlords committed to achieve carbon neutrality at more than 52 million square feet of high-rise office buildings and 250 multifamily buildings — consisting of 12,000 units — by no later than 2035.

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“By transforming our state’s majestic high-rises into low-carbon, sustainable structures using modern, energy efficient technology, New York is taking a tremendous leap forward in our fight against climate change,” said Cuomo.

The landlords’ participation in the partnership comes as a proposed workaround that would have allowed property owners to use renewable energy credits generated elsewhere in the state to meet emissions caps imposed by New York City Local Law 97 — and thus avoid heavy fines — now appears dead. Under the local law, buildings larger than 25,000 square feet will have until 2024 to meet the city-imposed emissions caps or potentially face fines that could run into the millions of dollars.

One of the most ambitious commitments was made by ESRT, which aims to achieve carbon neutrality across its 10.1 million-square-foot portfolio, including the 2.89-million-square-foot Empire State Building.

Vornado Realty Trust followed suit, aiming to achieve carbon neutrality at its entire office and retail real estate portfolio, leading with four high-rise commercial office buildings totaling 6.4 million square feet.

Rudin Management has set a goal of achieving carbon neutrality in its entire portfolio by 2050. Under the initiative, the family-owned company is accelerating the plans for three buildings at 80 Pine Street, 845 Third Avenue and 355 Lexington Avenue, said John Gilbert, the company’s chief operating officer.

“Sustainability has always been a core principle at Rudin, and public-private partnerships are critical to addressing the challenges of climate change,” Gilbert said in a statement.