NEW YORK CITY-Two of the highest-profile sustainable buildingprojects in the city—and arguably, the US—reached milestones inMay, as the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park was certifiedLEED Platinum and the Empire State Building hit the high EnergyStar ranking that was called for in its green retrofit program.Both projects have occurred under the auspices of deep-pocketedowners, and it’s fair to question whether they set examples thatother landlords can realistically expect to follow. The director ofNew York University’s sustainability institute believes theydo.

“One Bryant Park is almost the exclamation point on what a lotof people in design and real estate and government have been tryingto do, which is to advance energy efficiency in buildings,” saysConstantine Kontokosta, director of the NYU Schack Institute’sCenter for the Sustainable Built Environment. “It also representsthe beginning in a lot of ways, just another step in the evolutionof where we’ve been going.” He calls the retrofit of the79-year-old Empire State Building at 350 Fifth Ave. “a greatexample” of what can be done in existing properties.

Both the Durst Organization/BofA team behind One Bryant Park andMalkin Holdings, which last week announced an Energy Star rating of90 as a milestone in the retrofit program at 350 Fifth, have saidthey’re anticipating that others will follow their templates.Similarly, Kontokosta sees the Bloomberg administration as leadingby example with its PlaNYC initative, and says government at alllevels is incentivizing the greening of new or existingbuildings.

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Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny is managing editor of Real Estate Forum and He has been reporting on business since 1988 and on commercial real estate since 2007. He is based at ALM Real Estate Media Group's offices in New York City.