By Peter Elston
New York commercial landlords are seizing a unique opportunity to make a difference. By 2024, most buildings larger than 25,000 square feet—some 50,000 buildings across the city—will need to drastically cut emissions to comply with NYC’s building emissions law, Local Law 97 of 2019. By 2050, those caps on carbon emissions will force building owners to reduce emissions by 80 percent.
That’s a tall order, especially during a global pandemic that has been felt acutely by commercial building owners. But with most workers having yet to return to the office, some landlords are using this unprecedented moment to start working on their buildings, intending to meet these stringent new standards years ahead of schedule.
LEADING THE CHARGE
“The question is how do we get people to invest now, in the middle of a crisis, in sustainable practices,” said Bradley Fishel, Vice President of Renaissance Properties and Chairman of the Board NoHo Business Improvement District. “The new climate act for New York City means that building owners are going to have to meet sustainability standards in the coming years anyway. So, we are pressuring buildings owners in the NoHo BID to meet those 2024 standards before any other neighborhood in Manhattan.”
Renaissance Properties—whose portfolio includes 632 Broadway, 627 Broadway, and 264 West 40th Street—has already made the city’s recommended changes as of two years ago, Fishel said. Another of their buildings, 62 West 45th Street, is currently being transitioned to the Climate Act’s requirements.
For instance, at 632 Broadway—a landmarked Classical Revival mercantile building designed by Robert Maynicke and built in 1897—this family company led by President Kenneth Fishel replaced all lights with LEDs, switched to solar energy utility credits, installed touchless faucets and touchless light switches, updated all HVAC units to VRF systems, and replaced all windows and converted the buildings from heating oil to natural gas. They also added the Merv 13 air filtration to the building in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Building owners stand to save a ton of money by making these changes now,” said Fishel. “Not only because of vacancies and the fact that you are bothering fewer people when you make these retrofits, but because it is cheaper. We see up to 30 percent discounts because of COVID. If you wait, those prices are going to go up.”
SAVING THE EARTH
While the NoHo BID cannot force building owners to get on board with their sustainability campaign, Bradley said that it could apply pressure, recommend solutions, and educate. “Once you get someone’s attention and show them the information, the numbers speak for themselves,” he explained. “If you are a long-term owner like we are, these changes pay dividends. You are saving money and the earth.”
With an eye towards distressed assets, Renaissance specializes in value-add investments focusing on Prewar Prime Properties. From commercial and retail building ownership to leasing, management, and construction, the Renaissance has built its reputation on its people’s superior capabilities and efficiency, its most important resource. With an emphasis on quality and attention to detail, Renaissance brings a high level of comfort and modern technology, including the most elegant build-outs and the fastest services to all its treasured tenants.
For more information on Renaissance Properties, visit renaissancepropertiesny.com..