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One Court Square Undergoes Energy Saving Upgrade

One Court Square, the green-tinted skyscraper in Long Island City (Photo courtesy of Savanna)

July 27, 2021 By Ryan Songalia

Con Edison has given Queens’ most notable skyscraper a green makeover, significantly cutting its carbon emissions.

One Court Square, the 53-story office building in Long Island City that was completed in 1990, recently underwent a $5.8 million upgrade of its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

The upgrades are expected to save an estimated 4.4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, or up to 20 percent of the building’s previous usage. The project is the largest electric-efficiency retrofit of an office building that Con Edison has undertaken.

Con Edison provided incentives toward the $5.8 million upgrade that will allow the building owner, Savanna, to come out ahead financially in less than a year.

“The vast majority of the buildings that exist today in New York City will still be here 50 years from now, which is why energy efficiency is often our first and best tool for reducing carbon emissions,” said Amaury De La Cruz, program manager for energy efficiency at Con Edison.

Con Edison describes the upgrade as a “win-win-win” for Savanna, which will save money, the environment, and reduce the stress it places on the city’s electric grid.

In addition to reducing overall energy consumption, the upgrade will lower the building’s peak demand for power, helping Con Edison strengthen the reliability of the electric grid in the rapidly developing Long Island City neighborhood.

“One Court Square, with the help from Con Edison, is a great example of how we can retool our existing buildings to enhance the quality of life today and make them more sustainable for the future,” said Ben Furnas, director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate and Sustainability.

The building, long known for its Citibank logo, is an icon in Queens and is among the tallest buildings outside of Manhattan. The Citibank logo, however, was replaced last year by Altice USA, a cable network service provider that has been a tenant of the building since 2017.

The green makeover drew praise from Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who said he hopes to see other buildings undergo similar upgrades.

“With extreme weather and a higher demand for electricity becoming far too common, we must leave no stone unturned in our effort to make Queens as efficient, resilient and sustainable as possible,” said Richards.

Over 70 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from large buildings, though a new piece of New York City legislation aims to curb them.

Local Law 97, which was a part of the Climate Mobilization Act of 2019, will require building owners to significantly reduce their emissions.

There will be an emissions cap starting in 2024 that will become more stringent over time, requiring building owners to reduce their emissions by 40 percent by 2030 (from 2005 levels)—and by 80 percent by 2050.  It will apply to most buildings 25,000 square feet or more.

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This kind of jobs-energy efficiency retrofitting–would be created and expanded by a Green New Deal. It’s a no-brainer and a two-for: create jobs, reduce emissions.


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