Partnering For Clean And Resilient Housing: New York Building Competition Highlights Decarbonization Efforts
New York has been ramping up its efforts toward meeting the Climate Leadership and Protection Community Act goal of achieving an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Real estate will be a crucial part of that process: New York buildings make up approximately 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is one of many parties that is stepping in to help reach this milestone. NYSERDA is in the final stages of developing the Carbon Neutral Buildings Roadmap, which identifies pathways for New York's building stock to meet the state's carbon neutrality goal. Additionally, the organization has partnered with the state’s utilities sector toward these efforts, NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said.
“There are approximately 8 million households across the state in many different types of buildings,” Harris said. “We are looking at these different buildings and assessing how we can enhance energy efficiency and dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels for heating where people live and work.”
While the 2050 goal is on the far horizon, NYSERDA is working toward a more urgent milestone: ensuring 2 million climate-friendly homes by 2030. Harris said one program advancing this goal is NYSERDA's $40M Buildings of Excellence competition, which focuses on designing and developing modern, clean and resilient buildings for multifamily occupants and businesses. The winners of the competition may receive funding in the categories of design and demonstration or development.
“The competition focuses on new construction or adaptive reuse of spaces, demonstrating that these carbon-neutral and resilient buildings can be built cost-competitively and have the ability to drive market proficiency,” Harris said. “We are harnessing a collective power of the architectural, development and construction communities to develop what I see as a blueprint for the transformation that we need to achieve.”
She said that awards were given to 28 projects in the first round in October 2019 and 14 in the second round in March 2021. For NYSERDA, highlighting these winning projects is a way to share valuable information with building developers and architects building with carbon neutrality in mind.
“The Buildings of Excellence competition is about supporting projects that demonstrate that we don’t need natural gas or fossil fuels in order to heat or provide hot water for multifamily and commercial spaces,” Harris said. “It’s also about demonstrating that within these spaces, the occupants can find comfortable and pleasant spaces to live and work.”
Harris said that in the second round of the competition, two-thirds of winners targeted affordable housing spaces. These winners include two New York City buildings: Bethany Terraces Senior Houses, affordable housing that is set to be entirely electric and incorporate facets of modular construction; and Cooper Park Commons Building 2, an 18-story building focused on meeting LEED v4 Gold and Passive House sustainability standards that is designed to serve as an example of how to achieve a high-performing, carbon-neutral affordable housing campus.
While providing these solutions within affordable housing is a priority for New York, some of the Round 2 winners target commercial spaces as well. One example is The Rise, an affordable housing and mixed-use space that includes energy-efficient heat pumps and focuses on expanding its green space through rooftop gardens and a greenhouse.
Serving both market-rate and affordable housing is Court Square, a mixed-use space consisting of housing, offices, retail and a future New York City library. The project is set to be a study of how smart technology such as tinted windows and self-adjusting lighting can help reduce energy usage.
“These buildings demonstrate the ability to build with aspects such as all-electric heating, induction cooking, solar energy use and so on,” Harris said. “It’s interesting for us to see how these various technologies can be incorporated across a number of different buildings.”
The Buildings of Excellence competition’s third round launched on April 7, with $10M set to fund early stage designs in particular. Applications will be accepted until July 12 at 3 p.m. for the design category and July 14 at 3 p.m. for the demonstration category.
“The common theme throughout all of these rounds is that we are making the information widely available, to inform the market of what’s working, what lessons we have learned and how these case studies can be utilized for broader awareness and implementation across the state,” Harris said.
Despite the challenge of encouraging building decarbonization in New York state, Harris said the Buildings of Excellence competition has showcased the necessity and feasibility for carbon-neutral solutions.
“This is a change in the way buildings are constructed, which will ultimately be beneficial for buildings and residents,” Harris said. “This competition has demonstrated that it is worth it.”
This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and NYSERDA. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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