Glenwood Installs First Carbon-Capture System in NYC High-Rise

CarbonQuest scrubs CO2 from boilers, to be used in 2.5M SF portfolio.

Glenwood Management has installed the first carbon-capture system to be deployed in a high-rise building at the Grand Tier, a 30-story apartment tower it owns at Broadway and 64th Street in Manhattan.

Glenwood announced on Thursday that it plans to install the system from startup CarbonQuest—which scrubs carbon dioxide from the exhaust of gas-fired boilers—across a 2.5M SF portfolio of NYC buildings in what the company says is the world’s first large-scale application of carbon-capture technology in buildings.

CarbonQuest’s system at the Grand Tier deploys compressors and piping, located near the boilers in the 20-year-old building’s basement, which separate carbon dioxide in the flue exhaust from nitrogen and oxygen. In a multi-stage process, the system liquefies the CO2 and stores it in a metal tank.

The startup, which calls the liquefied carbon “sustainable CO2,” is selling the captured carbon dioxide from the apartment building’s heating system to a masonry manufacturer in Brooklyn who plans to “permanently sequester” the CO2 by injecting it into concrete blocks.

Glenwood said it will install CarbonQuest’s technology, which the startup has trademarked as the Building Carbon Capture System, in five of its buildings in NYC, including The Fairmont at 300 East 75th Street); The Bristol (300 East 56th Street); The Paramount Tower (240 East 39th Street) The Barclay (1755 York Avenue) and The Somerset (1365 York Avenue).

In a release, Glenwood said the system will prevent thousands of tons of CO2 emissions from its buildings, helping the company comply with NYC’s Local Law 97 (LL97), which aims to cut emissions from buildings in the city by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. In 2024, NYC will begin penalizing building owners and landlords who do not act to reduce carbon emissions.

Glenwood said its NYC buildings, based on their current carbon emissions, would incur an estimated $7M in penalties between 2024 and 2029, and $15 million in penalties in the years ranging from 2030 to 2034, under Local Law 97.

CarbonQuest’s carbon-capture system is expected to reduce emissions at Glenwood’s portfolio properties enough to avoid fines entirely, the company said.

Glenwood VP Joshua London told Bloomberg that CarbonQuest’s system will cut 25% of the Glenwood portfolio’s emissions. He indicated that the company views the system as a transition to a permanent solution—full building electrification drawing electricity from renewable energy sources.

London compared the carbon-capture system to a firetruck approaching a blaze with less than a full tank of water, Bloomberg’s report said.

According to CarbonQuest, the carbon-scrubbing system represents about 20% of the capital investment to fully electrify building systems currently powered by fossil fuels. The company says the system is scalable and flexible enough to fit into most buildings.

Another pioneering solution to carbon emissions from buildings is taking shape at Alloy Development’s 100 Flatbush project in Brooklyn.

The new apartment tower, now under construction, will be fully electrified, powered by community solar power installations with battery storage.

The Urban Green Council estimates that Local Law 97 will trigger $20B in retrofits in NYC over the next decade as property owners scramble to lower emissions in more than 50,000 buildings that currently emit an estimated 17 million tons of CO2 annual.

According to the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), 3,786 buildings will face LL97 fines in 2024, a number that will grow to 13,544 in 2030.

Building owners hoping to avoid costly retrofits by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) had a setback in November, when NYC officials indicated they would close what they called a loophole in LL97 and limit the use of RECs.

NYC officials are concerned that the rapid “grid decarbonization” that will take place over the next eight years in New York State may induce some NYC building owners to avoid carbon-reducing retrofits in the near-term by purchasing RECs.

NYC Comptroller Brad Lander has proposed to cap RECs to no more than 30% of a building’s electricity emissions above its limit. Under NYC’s original guidelines for LL97 compliance, application of RECs was limited to emissions generated by electric power, but no cap was specified.