The Real Estate Board of New York to The Committees on Environmental Protection, Civil Service and Labor, and Housing and Buildings on Oversight – Local Law 97 Green Workforce Pipeline


June 26, 2022

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REBNY thanks the Committees for the opportunity to testify on the potential workforce impacts of Local Law 97.

REBNY members are eager to help usher in a greener future for New York. The built environment is the largest contributor to carbon emissions in New York City, accounting for about 70 percent of carbon emissions per year. New York is also uniquely poised to bear some of the worst effects of climate change, with the city facing a 2-foot sea-level rise, higher storm surges and more frequent storms, and more intense heat waves, all by 2055. For these reasons, leaders in the real estate industry are committed to building a greener, more resilient city.

This commitment can be seen throughout the city’s built environment. For instance, at Hudson Square, Hines and Trinity Church Wall Street are developing LEED Platinum buildings that utilize innovative green technology that will exceed New York’s 2030 carbon emissions targets by 46%. This project is laying the groundwork for wider adoption of high performing, electric buildings in New York City and has been recognized by NYSERDA through the Empire Building Challenge program. The Hudson Square project is just one example of the success of leading real estate owners and developers in supporting a greener New York.

Our members are participants in several leading programs including NYSERDA’s Empire Building Challenge is a 50-million-dollar initiative that seeks to demonstrate novel approaches to transforming how New York is retrofitting buildings. Many of the key lessons of this initiative were recently unveiled as part of Empire Building Playbook initiative, which is based on the successful efforts of companies including Empire Realty Trust, the Durst Organization, Vornado Realty Trust, and Hudson Square Properties.

Further, NYSERDA also holds a 40-million-dollar competition, Buildings of Excellence, that monetarily rewards those organizations that build for a greener future through constructing carbon-neutral ready multifamily buildings. Past winners have included REBNY members like Jonathan Rose Companies, who has committed to cutting their Sendero Verde Building’s carbon emissions by achieving Passive House Certification. This project, located in Harlem, will make affordable housing for the area’s residents more sustainable and energy-efficient. Other winners of this competition include the Hudson Companies – who previously partnered with the Related Companies to build the world’s largest passive house building at the time of completion on Roosevelt Island – for its leading work in
this area.

Owners and developers are also working closely with their tenants by incorporating green principles into their leases. Members, like Empire State Realty Trust and Tishman Speyer, have been named Green Lease Leaders. Green Lease Leaders is a national program launched in 2014 by the US Department of Energy’s Better Building Alliance and recognizes landlords and tenants who demonstrate industry-leading efforts in creating more sustainable and efficient buildings.

To be competitive in the ecosystem of investors, our members are often eager to be at the forefront of climate technology. For years, companies like Rudin Management have been integrating technology into their buildings, which has helped lead to a 44 percent reduction in the firms carbon emissions since 2005. This support also enables members to experiment with new methods for reaching sustainability goals through capital. For instance, earlier this year REBNY’s annual Prop Tech Challenge focused exclusively on new technologies that can help decarbonize the building stock.

The industry is also leading the way to ensure that New York City is powered by renewable electricity so that we can replace the polluting fleet of power plants that for too long have harmed the communities in which they are located. Indeed, Related Companies and Blackstone are directly investing in the transmission projects needed to bring zero-emissions power into New York City and many industry peers are exploring purchases of renewable energy credits from these projects to ensure that their buildings decarbonize and the full cost of these projects is not borne by ratepayers. Beyond that, at One Manhattan West, Brookfield Properties is directly purchasing renewable power for the building to drive down emission at the property.

Collectively, these efforts illustrate just some examples of how real estate leaders are taking aggressive steps to reduce emissions, create green jobs, and build a better city. REBNY looks forward to continuing to work with the City Council and other stakeholders to ensure that State and local laws continue to encourage these kinds of investments and reward those who continue to make meaningful tangible progress in reducing emissions.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony.

Topics Covered

  • Environment