NEW YORK CITY-Two of the highest-profile sustainable building projects in the city—and arguably, the US—reached milestones in May, as the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park was certified LEED Platinum and the Empire State Building hit the high Energy Star ranking that was called for in its green retrofit program. Both projects have occurred under the auspices of deep-pocketed owners, and it’s fair to question whether they set examples that other landlords can realistically expect to follow. The director of New York University’s sustainability institute believes they do.

“One Bryant Park is almost the exclamation point on what a lot of people in design and real estate and government have been trying to do, which is to advance energy efficiency in buildings,” says Constantine Kontokosta, director of the NYU Schack Institute’s Center for the Sustainable Built Environment. “It also represents the beginning in a lot of ways, just another step in the evolution of where we’ve been going.” He calls the retrofit of the 79-year-old Empire State Building at 350 Fifth Ave. “a great example” of what can be done in existing properties.

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