NYC Tower Tech Looks to Overcome Emission Targets


Crews working on an office development in New York City are working to incorporate sustainable technology to achieve LEED Platinum status and cut carbon emissions by avoiding fossil fuel sources.

The ambitious undertaking aims to beat the city’s 2030 carbon emission targets by 46%, reduce energy consumption by 29% and meet 2050 carbon-neutral goals.

About Greenwich

Currently under construction at 555 Greenwich Street in lower Manhattan, the will-be 270,000-square-foot, 16-story office building first broke ground in September 2020. The early stages of the project involved the demolition of a one-story car park, excavation and foundation work.

According to reports, above-ground construction on the project launched in September 2021, while exterior work on the podium’s masonry, facade and the tower’s glass and steel curtain wall began just a few months later in November.

Currently, crews are working to erect the concrete superstructure on upper floors and facade on lower floors, with curtain wall installations expected to begin next month.

The project team consists of the following companies:

  • Hines, Trinity Church Wall Street and NorgesBank Investment Management as developers;
  • COOKFOX as architect;
  • AECOM Tishman as construction manager;
  • Thornton Tomasetti as structural engineer; and
  • Jaros, Baum & Bolles as MEP engineer.

In addition to reaching its sustainability goals, the team is also looking to construct through portals on most floors of the Greenwich office to neighboring 345 Hudson Street. Noted to have a long list of goals, the team recently spoke to Engineering-News Record on how the structure plans to become the first New York City office building to feature geothermal heating and cooling, thermally activated floor slabs, dedicated air ventilation units and all-electric HVAC systems.

“It’s an interesting time for our city … with incredibly aggressive carbon reduction goals,” said Rick Cook, COOKFOX founding partner. “[The developers] sat down, took a deep breath and said, ‘Let’s get out ahead of it.’”

However, because the sustainable technologies could be weaved together, Mike Izzo, Vice President for Carbon Strategy at Hines, reported that the efficiencies of one system worked to benefit another and the life cycle of the building itself.

Plumbing and wastewater recycling systems will reportedly save 800,000 gallons of water annually as well as the use of recycled rebar, concrete and glass. The geothermal system is slated to supply 30% of the cooling load and 40% of heating by sending liquid glycol through tubes deep underground, while the building’s thermal storage will use 20% less energy than traditional forced air vents and fans.

The building also is using dedicated outdoor air systems to bring in large amounts of pure outside air through multiple intakes on each floor.

“Every part of our thinking was to design the healthiest workplace,” added Cook. “That was all planned pre-pandemic—and all reinforced post-pandemic.”

As for connecting the two structures, the team reported that crews will have to prepare 77 possible portals between column bays on each office floor—42 on the six lower podium levels and 35 on the seven slimmer tower floors, 10 through 16. While connections will only be carved out where a space has been leased, future tenants will have the option to open the prepped portals.

Work is progressing on the effort, which has a $185 million construction budget.

The office is slated to top out by April, achieve full enclosure by October and reach substantial completion early next year.

NYC Climate Goals

Starting back in April 2019, Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced what’s since been called the city’s “Green New Deal”—a $14 billion plan that aims to reduce the city’s greenhouse emissions by 30% by 2030.

The plan was outlined in a report titled “OneNYC 2050: Building a Strong and Fair City” and looks at numbers from 2005 and described several initiatives that will reduce emissions by various percentage points from those numbers.

There are two major parts of the initiative that impact the building and construction industry. Those include:

  • Requiring buildings cut their emissions. With the passage of the building mandates law, New York City is the first city in the world to require all large existing buildings of 25,000 square feet or more, of which there are 50,000 citywide, to make efficiency upgrades that lower their energy usage and emissions or face steep penalties, according to the report.
  • Banning new inefficient glass-walled buildings. The city will no longer allow all-glass facades in new construction unless they meet strict performance guidelines, making inefficient glass-heavy building designs a thing of the past.

Since the announcement, New York has been proposing related plans and passing legislation to aide in those goals.

In October, de Blasio announced plans to conduct deep energy retrofits in nine city facilities, in addition to plans for identifying another 28 facilities for future retrofits.

Guided by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ audits of city facilities comprising of 10,000 square feet and larger to pinpoint areas of high-energy usage that could be more efficient, the DCAS is collaborating with identified facilities to design and implement the retrofits.

In November, the New York City Department of Buildings formally announced that the city’s new green roof laws were in effect.

Local Law 92 and Local Law 94 require that all new buildings and all existing buildings undergoing major roof renovations to have a solar photovoltaic system, a green roof system or a combination of the two. The systems must cover 100% of any applicable roof.

And in March 2020, De Blasio announced that the city would be requiring all new and existing buildings to meet stricter energy efficiency requirements under the 2020 NYC Energy Conservation Code.

The Energy Conservation Construction Code requires several mandates—many of which focused around building envelopes—including:

  • Improve the building thermal envelope with better performing walls and windows;
  • Seal and test the building envelope to minimize and control air leakage;
  • Require balconies and parapets to be continuously insulated;
  • Identify thermal bridging elements in the building envelope;
  • Meet minimum energy efficiency requirements for heating and cooling systems;
  • Require more efficient interior lighting and additional lighting controls;
  • Perform commissioning on more HVAC alteration projects;
  • Require efficiency measures on new elevators and commercial kitchen equipment;
  • Require the infrastructure for the future installation of electric vehicle chargers in one- and two-family homes;
  • Require whole building metering for new buildings greater than 25,000 square feet;
  • Allow source energy as a metric, instead of energy cost, for buildings choosing to comply with energy modeling; and
  • Require additional thermal envelope performance requirements for buildings choosing to comply with energy modeling.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, the 2020 NYC Energy Conservation Code was just one of the New York City Construction Codes to be updated by the Department of Buildings as part of the ongoing Code Revision Cycle that year.

The 2020 NYC Energy Conservation Code went into effect on May 12, 2020.


Tagged categories: Building codes; Carbon footprint; Color + Design; Color + Design; Commercial / Architectural; Design - Commercial; Emissions; Good Technical Practice; Greenhouse gas; LEED; NA; North America; Office Buildings; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Technology

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