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NYC’s Ritziest Developers Do Next To Nothing To Reduce Energy Consumption

432 Park Ave. in Manhattan

Most of New York City’s carbon footprint comes from energy guzzled up by office and residential buildings, but the developers of some of these pricey condominiums have barely lifted a finger to lower the harm they inflict on the environment.

Harry Macklowe and CIM Group’s 432 Park Ave., for example, was given an Energy Star score of 4 out of 100 by the Environmental Protection Agency, Crain’s New York Business reports.  In 2016, the luxury tower used 214,900 British thermal units per SF, which is 73% more than the median figure for residential buildings in the city.

At Extell Development’s One57 it is a similar story. It used 291,500 BTUs per SF in 2016, and received an Energy Star score of 2.

The Baccarat Hotel and Residences used 117% more BTUs and 78% more electricity per SF than the median for residential buildings and hotels in the city. Meanwhile, Vornado’s ultra-luxury development 220 Central Park South does not have any efficiency features, Crain’s reports, nor does Zeckendorf Development’s 520 Park Ave., which has an Energy Star rating of just 1.

The issue at hand for these builders: There is little proof buyers will pay more for sustainability features, which means developers are reticent to invest in costly features that will not pay for themselves. 

Residents are reluctant to pay a premium for LEED certification, panelists said at Bisnow's multifamily event last month, which puts the onus on developers themselves. A representative from the city’s Department of Buildings said it would be difficult to build these types of buildings today, as energy-efficiency codes have been upgraded since they started construction.

Last week, the developer of the world’s most sustainable office building, Coen Van Oostrom, told Bisnow investors need to be assured they will see a return on their investment when it comes to green features in a building.

Many of the city’s rental buildings have a better record, with companies like the Durst Organization installing sustainability features at Via57 and the Helena, according to Crain's, because they pay the building's ongoing energy costs as long as they own the property.

However, Mayor Bill de Blasio has set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% over the next three decades.

"For the city to meet its climate goals, almost every building needs to drastically reduce its energy usage," Lindsay Robbins, a senior adviser at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Crain’s. "It's shocking that these high-end buildings are performing this poorly.”