Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT) recently announced that its commercial portfolio had achieved carbon neutrality through the implementation of a combination of strategies.
In addition to retrofit work aimed at increasing the energy efficiency of several buildings in the portfolio, ESRT also recently signed a new, three-year agreement with 18 Reserves and ACT Commodities. Through this agreement, ESRT supports the preservation of nearly 9,000 acres of biodiverse forest, which is estimated to offset 100% of the Trust’s non-electric fossil fuel usage.
The 9,000-acre preserved forest referenced in the new agreement is located near Cleveland and owned by the Department of Forestry. The initiative complements ESRT’s current offset of all electricity usage with wind renewable energy credits (RECs) — which has been in effect at the Empire State Building since 2011 — as well as throughout the portfolio since January 2021 in a long-term partnership with Green Mountain Energy.
Though offset strategies are not as efficient as actual reductions of emissions and fossil fuel usage, they have been a popular tool of choice for emissions mitigation by organizations from around the world that are looking to meet compliance requirements and voluntary needs.
As ESRT understands that the benefits of such a tool do not have a long-lasting effect, it recently published the “Empire Building Playbook: An Owner’s Guide to Low Carbon Retrofits.” Co-developed with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and supported by other NYC-based landlords, as well as the Clinton Global Initiative, the guide is intended to assist building owners by laying out the steps to achieve carbon neutrality through emissions reduction with less dependence on offsets and a proven return on investment.
Likewise, recognizing that today’s tenant flight to quality means looking for fully modernized, energy-efficient buildings that offer top-tier amenities and a healthy environment, the Trust also actively works to increase energy efficiency and reduce operational emissions across its portfolio. In fact, it has already reduced greenhouse gas emissions at the Empire State Building by 54%, as well as by 43% within its entire commercial portfolio. Moreover, in partnership with a more renewable-sourced energy grid, ESRT is reportedly on track to achieve its target of net-zero emissions with 80% reduction in operational emissions at the Empire State Building by 2030, as well as throughout its entire commercial portfolio by 2035.
The Empire State Building — one of the most famous structures in the world — has taken a leading role in ESRT’s efforts for sustainability. Specifically, ESRT partnered with the Clinton Climate Initiative, Rocky Mountain Institute, Johnson Controls and JLL for a comprehensive energy efficiency retrofit program that aims to reduce the building’s total energy consumption by 50%. This has already garnered the iconic New York City office space an Energy Star rating of 86, thereby placing the skyscraper among the top 20% most energy-efficient properties among all of the buildings measured by the program.
“As legislation, market demand, and climate change risk push real estate owners to meet emissions reduction requirements, companies need to seek out more advanced ways to offset their current usage while they work to reduce emissions,” said Anthony E. Malkin, chairman, president and CEO at Empire State Realty Trust. “ESRT continues to innovate and implement ways to serve as a destination for high-quality tenants and benefit investors with considerable savings and returns. This partnership with 18 Reserves and ACT supports efforts to conserve and protect carbon-sequestering forest on behalf of ESRT and our tenants.”